McCaw receives silver cap to mark 100th test
Updated: September 24, 2011, 09:05
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) What France couldn't do in 80 minutes, Jock Hobbs did in five: That would be to humble Richie McCaw.
After leading New Zealand to a comfortable 37-17 win over the French in their World Cup grudge match on Saturday, McCaw was presented on Eden Park with an unprecedented silver cap to mark his 100th test, the first by an All Black.
On the back of the cap was stitched the match, the date, the venue, plus "Richard H McCaw'' and "1014.'' McCaw became the 1,014th All Black in 2001.
McCaw became emotional when he received the cap from Hobbs, another former All Black captain who resigned as head of the New Zealand Rugby Union and World Cup organization last December when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma on top of leukemia. Hobbs made one of his first public appearances since the news to be on hand for McCaw's big night.
"I've got a huge amount of respect for that fella,'' McCaw said. "For him to come out and say those words and present that cap, I couldn't think of a better man to be able to do that and to receive it from.
"He's been through a tough time, but he's a fighter. He's responsible for having this tournament, or largely responsible for why it's here. He's obviously on the improve. To have him here today was something pretty special.''
After the presentation, the All Blacks and Les Bleus formed a tunnel to honor and applaud the skipper off the field. McCaw was a tackling machine again, producing a match-best 19 tackles to help smother the French.
On another great performance on top of so many, McCaw typically said he "was not so bad.''
"I was really proud the way the guys fronted up today. After the first couple of games, and all respect to (Tonga and Japan), we needed a lift intensity. We made sure we came to the party. The way we defended really set the attitude, the tone for the game.''
McCaw was supposed to play the milestone match last week against Japan but pulled out after a minor calf strain in training. That only prolonged the congratulations from people for another week, but he said the fuss about his 100th test didn't weigh on his mind, and fellow All Blacks said he'd hardly mentioned it.
"I've always said it's never about me, it's about the team, and the boys fronted up today. It's a special memory I'll have.''
Coach Graham Henry was grateful for the hard test from an overmatched France, and was pleased with how the tries were scored.
But he was concerned with new injuries to No. 8 Adam Thomson (ankle), wingers Richard Kahui (bruised thigh) and Cory Jane (dizziness) and fullback Israel Dagg (bruised thigh).
He was full of praise for Dagg, who's form has sidelined 98-test veteran Mils Muliaina, scrumhalf Piri Weepu, prop Tony Woodcock and lock Sam Whitelock.
Dan Carter also proved in classy style that he was recovered from a back spasm that kept him out of the Japan win. Carter said he was glad to contribute to a key pool win over a lethal World Cup rival on a special night for a long-time friend.
"It was a game that we really targeted. It was really pleasing, especially for Richie,'' Carter said. "We were doing it for Richie.''