Review: Richie McCaw movie Chasing Great a study in leadership

What does it take to captain a rugby team through to win two successive World Cups? A new documentary tries to capture the man behind the hype.

Review: Emma Rawson

Chasing Great proves that great leaders are made, not born. The documentary follows the most-capped All Black in history, Richie McCaw in his build up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It’s is less of a rugby movie and more an account of how a humble boy from Kurow grew up to to be the captain of New Zealand’s rugby team – and to become a bloody good one.

In Richie’s admission, he’s a shy, boring guy and doesn’t like to show emotion. But leadership is not always about being an extrovert or constantly maintaining a positive outlook, he says.

During his time in professional rugby, Richie has never courted the limelight, putting on a stoic face at post-game press conferences and steering clear of women’s mag interviews. But behind the scenes, we learn Richie is a relentlessly driven man feeling a huge responsibility to his country. The All Black’s loss in the 2007 World Cup weighed heavily on its captain and following the defeat Richie worked with a sports psychologist to learn the leadership skills he realised he lacked. This helped him guide his team and stay cool under pressure in subsequent World Cups.

Chasing Great may disappoint hardcore rugby fans who might prefer to see more match footage, but equally, those who are less familiar with rugby will find this a satisfying watch. Rugby is a team game, and it feels unbalanced to focus on one man’s achievements, but this doco is thankfully free of the grandstanding and hero-worshiping that often comes with rugby in New Zealand. But Chasing Great an insightful story of a boy who was “kind of good” at rugby, but became a great leader by setting himself goals and acknowledging his own weaknesses.

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