Loose Pass

Date published: August 19 2015

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This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with McCaw going back to school, a Wheelchair Rugby warrior and the Men In Black.

McCaw for Varsity Match?

“He's just an ordinary bloke from Kurow but he can do extraordinary things.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen's wonderfully unscripted but beautifully accurate line was a highlight of the ceremony that followed Richie McCaw's record-breaking 142nd Test appearance against Australia last weekend.

In an earlier and equally classy move, Hansen opted to withdraw his skipper midway through the second half, with the game won and Bledisloe secured once again, so the capacity Eden Park could rise as one to salute their hero.

Another ovation greeted him at the final whistle when a clearly emotional McCaw took centre stage following what was most likely his last appearance on home soil. “I didn't want that feeling, that moment, to stop,” he later recalled.

But he wasn't the only one making his final bow in New Zealand with Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu also worthy of immense praise and who will also leave significant voids.

McCaw took the Test record from Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll who, predictably for someone of his class, took his demotion in the all-time ranks like a gent.

“Huge congrats to Richie McCaw in becoming the most capped Test player of all time,” he wrote on Twitter. “No one could be more deserving. #142”.

While McCaw's focus soon returned to the small matter of a World Cup defence after which he is expected to retire, many in New Zealand have started planning the player's post-rugby career for him.

'McCaw for Prime Minister' was one fan's opinion – described as 'not a bad option' by current leader John Key who will no doubt try to bestow a knighthood on the 34-year-old once again in the coming months.

You may remember the honour was turned down by McCaw in the wake of the All Blacks 2011 Rugby World Cup triumph as he felt it would not be right while he was still playing.

But perhaps most telling is the tip has come from former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry who believes the 'very, very bright boy ' McCaw may return to the studies that were interrupted when his rugby career took over.

It is thought that such a life choice may lead him to Oxford or Cambridge University in England which in turn throws up the intriguing prospect of McCaw gracing the Varsity Match at Twickenham.

The historic fixture that has struggled of late to attract a full house to English rugby's HQ would surely welcome such a boost.

So perhaps he will not be hanging up his boots for good following the World Cup…

The Wheelchair Wonder

There are those who are fans of Wheelchair Rugby, and there are those who are yet to witness its compelling drama.

If you think the latest Bledisloe battle was the most brutal rugby clash last weekend – think again.

Canada claimed the Wheelchair Rugby gold at the Parapan Am Games with a thrilling 57-54 victory over fierce rivals USA and in doing so they also booked their place at next year's Paralympic Games in Rio.

Star of the show was the 'baby-faced assasin' Zak Madell who weighed in with 34 goals in a man of the match performance that was punctuated with a bone-shuddering steal in the final moments of the game that finally snuffed out the United States' title challenge.

The 21-year-old Madell was a keen sportsman in his youth but contracted a staph infection that ultimately led to the amputation of both his legs and some fingers on both of his hands.

He was in hospital for six months following surgery and his rehabilitation continued for a further year and a half but his hunger for competitive sport never waned.

Madell eventually discovered Wheelchair Rugby, or 'Murderball' as it became known following the Oscar-nominated documentary of the same name, and has since gone on to become one of the sport's leading lights alongside the likes of Australia's Ryley Batt.

He is a warrior to rival the likes of Richie McCaw and clearly shares some other characteristics with his All Blacks counterpart.

"Despite having experience meteoric success at a very young age, he remains humble, down to earth, and dedicated to constantly raising the bar for himself and his team-mates," said Canada's chef de mission Elisabeth Walker-Young, in a comment that could have easily been attributed to McCaw.

And the similarities continue. "Audiences cheer for his intensity, his aggression, and competitors respect his sportsmanship and his unbridled love for the game,” she added.

Out of this world

Not content with setting the standard on the field, the All Blacks have teamed up with Air New Zealand once again to raise the bar in the advertising world.

Four years on from their first funny take on the usually dull air safety procedures, the All Blacks are at it again as the stars of a 'Men In Black' spoof.

The epic promo, featuring the rapping skills of All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg and acting prowess of the likes of Steve Hansen and Richie McCaw, was only released last week but has already racked up over 2m views on YouTube.

There are also cameos from former Wallabies winger David Campese and ex-Argentina captain Agustin Pichot as aliens.

They are joined by England legend Martin Johnson who, four years on from orchestrating England's World Cup campaign, can now be found attempting to eat an in-flight instruction card midway through the advert.

But where was the South African cameo? Surely it was the perfect vehicle for Peter de Villiers?

Well played Air New Zealand.

Loose Pass is compiled by former scrum.com editor Graham Jenkins

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