“People ask me what is the worst thing that happened to you in rugby? For a while I’d say the 2007 World Cup quarter-final but probably now I’d say it was one of the best things that happened to me,” McCaw told the A Few Hard Men podcast.
“Because I wouldn’t have put the time and effort and work into what happened for the [next] eight years … I don’t think the All Blacks would have been successful for the [following] eight years had we not gone through that.
“Yes, it was tough at the time but the learnings we got out of it and where it took us, the path it took us, wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t gone through that.
“It showed you how tough it is to actually win a World Cup. It put that right in perspective. You never took anything for granted after that.”
Referee Wayne Barnes has since admitted the decision to not call a forward pass in the lead up to a crucial French try in that match is his biggest refereeing regret.
“I think, perhaps the most high-profile mistake was in 2007 when there was a forward pass in the lead up to a French try against New Zealand, the fallout from that was pretty huge,” Barnes told BT Sport.
“I think I was voted the third most-hated man in New Zealand that year so it was pretty impressive.
Former Test lock Ali Williams has detailed the changes in preparation the All Blacks underwent when avenging their infamous 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit four years later.
Williams spoke about transforming pressure into privilege as the All Blacks set off towards World Cup glory in 2011, their first title since 1987.
“Let’s walk towards it rather than shy away,” Williams told RugbyPass Legends.
“Graham Henry put himself out there. Put himself through all that pain knowing what had happened when we’d failed, to do it again.”
As the team embarked on the task of making amends and winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Williams recalls just how focused McCaw was during the tournament.
“Richie [McCaw], one of my good mates, and he sits behind me in the bus,” Williams said.
“He sits behind me and during the Cup it was literally like ‘mate, talk to me when you’re relaxed’. For that four – probably five – weeks we didn’t talk much. He was just so – doing his own thing, internally focused.”
To Williams’ surprise, McCaw eventually broke his silence.
“I think it was the semi-final, he came up and said ‘hey mate’ and I said ‘oh you’re back, nice to meet you, good to see you.’ That was just how he was dealing with it. He obviously had high pressure on his shoulders.”
McCaw went on to lead the All Blacks to back-to-back World Cup triumphs in 2015 before retiring from all rugby as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Rugby World Cup stadium guide – Kumamoto:
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