Richie McCaw and Dan Carter - How Long will the Big Two Last?

Richie McCaw with the World Cup
Richie McCaw and Dan Carter - How Long will the Big Two Last?

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw added another accolade to his illustrious career in Saturday's win over France as he became Test rugby's most-capped captain.

According to official statistics, McCaw led his country for the 85th time last weekend against France, in his 122nd test. He surpassed previous record holder Brian O’Driscoll, who has led Ireland 84 times and then John Smit with 83 tests as captain of South Africa.

Most incredibly, however, is that McCaw has won 75 of those 85 tests in charge, a magnificent 88.8 per cent win rate.

The 32-year-old loose forward, who made his Test debut in 2001, will have the opportunity to reach another benchmark on Saturday, as he aims to lead the All Blacks to their 13th win in 13 starts this year when they face England at Twickenham.

The same game will also mark Dan Carter’s 100th cap for his country.

Carter, 31, will become the fifth All Black to reach a century of caps if he plays at Twickenham.

New Zealand number 8 and possible future All Black Captain, Kieran Read, insists that the team will be more eager to mark Dan Carter’s 100th cap with a win than avenge last year’s loss to England this weekend.

Read finished on the losing side when England pulled off a surprise 38-21 victory last December, but he says Saturday's game will be about honouring Carter rather than settling scores.

"I think you look at the man who Dan is and he will put the team above everything," Read told Sky Sports.

"But at the back of my mind, if he is playing I would want to do well for him. It can affect you if you start chasing your tails. To be honest, it has not been used as motivation at all.

"Certainly you don't like losing in a black jersey, but there are a lot of things that have changed in the last 12 months. It is a completely different team in a different place right now.

"You want to win every time you play and that is our mind-set this week."

The legendary fly half is the highest point’s scorer in Test match rugby, with a mammoth 1435 to his name, almost 200 points ahead of second place Jonny Wilkinson, who has 1246.

The arguable best fly-half of all time has been named the International Rugby Board player of the year twice, in 2005 and 2012. Carter has also won four Super Rugby titles, six Tri-Nations and Rugby Championships, and finally the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

But the question stands: how long can the All Blacks greatest two players keep going in test match rugby?

With the 2015 Rugby World Cup now less than two years away and with both players’ on-field performances showing no signs of dropping in standard. Will the All Black backbone last up to when the rugby world collides in England on the 18th of September 2015.

Both McCaw and Carter have been injured, rested and on sabbaticals so much recently that while in the past it was inconceivable that the All Blacks would be world beaters without these two, there are now players waiting in the wings.

Talking Rugby Union’s man in the southern hemisphere added more information from the islands:

“The critics have been out recently on both Carter and McCaw. McCaw still warrants selection for his leadership and impact as an openside flanker, but he has had to adapt his game and can at times be found out by smaller and faster players.

“Carter, on the other hand, sometimes takes a while to get into form, but his cause isn't helped by the quality of back up players in Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett who have been impressive in 2013.

“Bringing on either Cruden or Barrett in the final quarter as an impact sub due to their pace is probably a good idea for the World Champions.

“While it is great to have experience in the All Blacks leading into the Rugby World Cup, there is a feeling that having too many older players could be detrimental to the All Blacks chances.

“Mils Muliaina was like this at the 2011 competition, where he was superseded by Israel Dagg and crawled over the 100 test caps as he was gifted some caps later in the tournament.

“I don’t want this to happen to these two legends.”

Will the prolific All Black pairing make their way over to England once again in 2015 for a final time perhaps? And take up a place in the New Zealand World Cup squad?

Unfortunately only time, performances and fitness will tell.

But one thing is for sure – whenever McCaw and Carter finally decide to hang up their test match boots – they will be sorely missed.


2019 Rugby World Cup Points Table