All Blacks building nicely: Richie McCaw
November 19, 2013
Richie McCaw releases his grip on the Webb Ellis Cup - for two years, at least © Getty Images
Richie McCaw believes the All Blacks are building a team capable of retaining the Rugby World Cup, having returned the Webb Ellis Cup to the International Rugby Board at a ceremony in Dublin that unofficially marked the midway point between the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.
"It's a funny old thing to be doing, isn't it? Handing it back," McCaw said. "But every time I see the cup, I always get reminded about how much energy you have to put in to winning the thing."
McCaw is more than satisfied with the All Blacks' progress since scraping past France in the Rugby World Cup 2011 final at Eden Park in Auckland, since when they have won 25 of 27 Tests under Steve Hansen and this week extended their reign as the world No.1-ranked side to four years.
McCaw is one of four 100-cap players in the squad, complemented by impressive newcomers whom he says have revitalised the team in 2013, but he still believes the 2006-2007 teams were the strongest in his 12-year Test career.
"I think back to the talent we had in teams in 2006-07, we were a pretty talented team but we came up short when it counted," he said in reference to the Rugby World Cup 2007 quarter-final defeat by France that extended New Zealand's record of having never won the tournament offshore.
McCaw hopes it will be sixth time lucky in England in 2015.
"It was hard enough to win it at home; if anything, it adds a bit of pressure," he said. "There's only one team that gets the home advantage, and, as we saw a couple of years ago, it doesn't make things a whole lot easier really."