Taken from the IRB World Rugby Yearbook 2012, New Zealand captain Richie McCaw recalls the emotional rollercoaster of Rugby World Cup 2011.
I am so proud of the efforts of every single player and member of the management team and so grateful for the support we got from the people of New Zealand as we won the Rugby World Cup.
Crucially, every single man out there during the Final showed what it means to be an All Black. At some point one group of players was going to do it, and this group of 30 took their chance. When things happened we just kept getting up again and again and trusting in our mates beside us.
It was 30 guys and the management, and everyone played their part. It’s hard to describe, but all around New Zealand people have supported us and given us so much, and it’s great that we could repay them.
The one-point victory in the Final says a lot about the men we have in the team. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but we had to have courage and the desire to win. The boys put a lot of effort into getting into that position, over a long period of time, and we didn’t want to let it go. We probably didn’t play our best, but we did enough. I take my hat off to every single player.
In the semi-final against Australia we played the rugby we know we can play, and the Final was about hanging in there. It wasn’t really until I woke up the morning after the Final that I realised what we’d done. The night after the match was a sort of relief, I suppose.
Richie McCaw and New Zealand had to get through a tough semi-final with Australia
Straight after the game I found it hard to describe my emotions. I admitted to being absolutely shagged. It’s hard to get it to sink in, but I am so proud of every single of one the boys, and what we have achieved. We couldn’t have been under more pressure at times, but we stuck to our guns and got there in the end.
Everyone had absolutely nothing left. It was sort of a funny feeling, really. It will sink in, I’m sure. I know some people thought – in advance of the Final – that it would be an easy game for us, but within the players and management we never believed that for one minute, as it proved to be.
We went 8-0 up, and when they scored their try the big thing was not to panic, though we seemed to do that at the kick-off. We had talked about being in situations like that, and you need to keep the belief and trust. We had to dig deep, but the last thing we wanted to do was panic.
It is all about preparing for those kinds of situations, and we did that well in the week before the game. It is how you react. If you are a leader or captain, you have to keep the belief, and we just about managed to hang in there. When it came to that moment, I knew we had to believe in each other and play the rugby to win.
We just wanted another go to show we learned our lessons from the last four years, and I think we did. Stephen Donald, of course, ended up scoring the vital penalty, and I think we were able to use our substitutes very well. The key was expecting things like that to happen – if you don’t prepare and just hope for the best, then when things start to go against you you can’t deal with it.
Stephen Donald, the fourth All Black to wear the No 10 jersey at RWC 2011, slotted the winning kick
When we had problems someone always stood up, and then the next guy stood up, and I take my hat off to Stephen, but it’s not just about one guy – everybody played as well as they can. You've got to be warriors to win the World Cup, and there’s going to be a lot of stories told about these boys as we get older. They’re tough men, and I think the whole country should be very proud of every single one of them.
Yes, we won the World Cup for the team and the All Blacks, but we also won it for everyone in New Zealand. It’s important that everyone feels a part of it and knows they have helped in some way.
The parade and celebration in Auckland the day after we had beaten France showed the amount of support and the amount of passion there is for the All Blacks and rugby in New Zealand. We’ve never really underestimated that, we’ve always known it, but to see people come out and show their support was pretty awesome because Kiwis sometimes don’t show their emotion too much, but there’s plenty of it out there.
And after Auckland the players were delighted to go on a tour of the whole country, first stopping off in Christchurch. It was very important for us to go to Christchurch, where around 50,000 people turned out. Everyone in that city has been through quite a lot, so it was nice to go and put a smile on some people’s faces. I hope each and every one of them is proud – it’s a great time to be a Kiwi.
Although we couldn’t play any games down there in Christchurch, we realised the support from all over the country, especially from that province, was huge. We went there and say “thank you” for the support and show the Cup, and it meant a lot. More than 100,000 Wellingtonians packed the capital’s streets when we went there and those two days were something pretty unforgettable, a time that we really didn’t want to end.
It was a hell of a six weeks, and we will be the world champions for four years, so we’re going to enjoy it as much as we can.
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