Less than two months after Richie McCaw announced his retirement from rugby, a survey among elite rugby referees has revealed that just 10% ever remembered controlling a game he played in.
Considered by many to be the greatest player ever to have worn a New Zealand shirt, the 148 times capped flanker managed to avoid the eyes of match officials so completely that it appears nine out of ten referees didn’t even realise he was ever playing.
“Nope, I never had the pleasure to referee him,” said one top official anonymously. “I always felt jealous of refs that did. You always want to referee the greats. It’s why you aim for the top of the game.”
The referee in question actually refereed McCaw on seven occasions in his career, including the 2015 World Cup. Close video analysis of one game he refereed indicates McCaw spent 74% of the time on the opponent’s side of a ruck, which may account for the confusion as he may have thought the Kiwi was an opposition player.
In a test career spanning 14 years, it is believed that McCaw averaged an astonishing rate of one penalty per 14 years. However, that figure is currently being disputed as the one penalty he is alleged to have conceded may have actually been directed against a fellow back rower.
McCaw is currently concentrating on a career as a helicopter pilot. It is believed the New Zealand Air Force is trying to persuade him to join the special forces so they can utilise his ability to operate behind enemy lines undetected.