Richie suits rugby not Parliament

As the sporting world drew its attention to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in the United Kingdom, once again the weight of a small island nation rested on the shoulders of one team, and more specifically, one man - Richie McCaw - The Kurow Kid.

He is the very essence of what it means to be a good, reliable Kiwi lad, an idol and undeniably the best flanker in the international game, as he has been for over a decade.

He is an inspirational captain, inspiring both the players that line up alongside him and the thousands of supporters lining the stadium, as well as commanding the respect and fear of his opposition.

Any sports fan can agree that he is a great rugby player. What I challenge is the very character of the man and whether his legendary status is in fact justified, or if (not for the first time) New Zealand's unrelenting patriotism is once again blinding us.

I could be considered, in this rugby-obsessed nation, as a conscientious objector.

New Zealand's national love for McCaw is fuelled by the idea that this man came from little.

A small country kid who was stocky for his age and had a dad who always pushed him to be fit.

He has been on the international stage for 14 years, and a captain for over half of this.

He is known for his ability to walk that tightrope between obeying the rules but still making an impact on every loose ball, something all good loose forwards must do.

I do not have a problem with any of this. These are all facts - the kind of thing you could find on any old Wikipedia page or the underside of a Speight's bottle cap.

What I have a problem with is the unhealthy devotion our people have with someone whose biggest asset is impressive biceps and a strong threshold for pain.

The fact is, Richie McCaw is a rugby player, a good rugby player, but still a rugby player.

There are constant calls for ‘‘our Richie'' to be knighted, to be put on the $5 note. Hell, some are calling for him to get into politics.

His reputation has now surpassed his ability and importance. He is one of 146,893 registered rugby players in this country and for some reason he is treated like a god among men.

Rugby players are, for whatever reason, given the reputation of not being the sharpest tools in the shed, and the fact that they spend 80 minutes every Saturday smacking heads with guys 100kg-plus, probably gives some truth to this thought to some extent.

These players, professional or beginner, are good, wholesome, New Zealand men.

They work hard during the week, care for their families and enjoy a good game of footy.

This does not make these men, even the supreme athletes among them, applicable candidates for parliament.

Can you imagine what laws would be passed if the Kurow Kid was top dog in the New Zealand governmental system?

‘‘Football will no longer be allowed in New Zealand, unless it is played with a funny shaped oval ball.''

‘‘Steinlager and Powerade, the official drinks of the All Blacks, will be the only drinks available to the public."

‘‘If one is going out in public, all clothes must be skin-tight Lycra, preferably with Canterbury or adidas blazoned right across the front.''

The fact is, Richie McCaw does not have the ability to get involved in politics.

He is aggressive. He is strong and he is fit.

What he is not, however, is politically savvy.

A sportsperson as a politician is about as effective as a waterproof tea bag.

He simply lacks the knowledge and political awareness to be a good leader of a country.

Yes, he can tell 14 burly men when to run, but can he solve the Auckland housing crisis?

What is his opinion on New Zealand's refugee quota?

McCaw does not actually have any idea on how to deal with the real wider issues.

He has given his heart and soul in rugby for most of his life and it was starting to show at the Rugby World Cup.

McCaw will always be a legend, but as the clock wears on, he is no longer a level above the other 29 guys on the field.

And with this unfortunate truth, New Zealanders are going to have to admit, if he's not on a different level to the other 29, is he really on another level to 4,470,999 people?

Does he still have what it takes to lead a group through tough times?

Although it will break every rugby fan's heart, I think the answer is no.

I am happy to admit I am in the minority.

Some would even call me a traitor, not a real Kiwi. Why don't I just go to Australia because I don't believe in Richie?

I must make it clear that I believe McCaw is an outstanding rugby player. But our politics are sound. We don't need an open side flanker to wade in on these sensitive issues.

I don't want to go to Australia because I believe this country's political system is one of justice, one which I believe in.

But most of all, I won't move to Australia because I want my national rugby team to win.

-By Toby Black - Year 13, King's High School

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