In Depth

Richie McCaw swaps rugby for helicopters and care homes

The New Zealand rugby legend has an eclectic range of business interests to keep him occupied after hanging up his boots

New Zealand's World Cup-winning rugby captain Richie McCaw has announced his retirement.

The news was not unexpected but comes at a difficult time for New Zealand rugby fans, who are mourning the death of All Black legend Jonah Lomu earlier this week.

McCaw, regarded as possibly the greatest-ever player, enjoyed a record-breaking career and last month became the first captain to win the World Cup twice as he led New Zealand to back-to-back titles. He is bowing out after a record 148 caps.

It was widely expected that the 34-year-old would call time on his career after the World Cup, but he refused to comment on his future during the tournament and seemed to be in two minds after the final. He finally made the announcement at a press conference, after observing a minute's silence in honour of Lomu.

"This is the end of something that has been a big part of my life," he said. "I left it until now but I didn't want to have a foot out of the door during the World Cup. I wanted to make it about the team, not about the individual."

After the shock of Lomu's death McCaw's retirement was "a matter of sporting inevitability, bowing to the reality of the years", says Mick Cleary in the Daily Telegraph. "Glasses were raised and a grand career was saluted with smiles all round.

"McCaw was an unfussy sort, a team man to his core. Yet his stats brook no argument. These are figures that will probably never be matched."

Bizarrely for a player calling time on a glittering career with the world at his feet, McCaw's future plans do not appear to involve coaching or media work. Instead, the world's most successful rugby player intends to become a commercial helicopter pilot.

McCaw is a shareholder and director of the company Christchurch Helicopters, and said that he was "excited about the opportunities" in that area. "Aviation is something I'm passionate about, I'm going to carry on flying and work towards getting my commercial pilot licence," he said.

The company offers "flight training and agricultural services and recently expanded into commercial work, including tourism flights, winery tours and firefighting", explains Stuff.co.nz, which also highlights some of McCaw's other unusual business interests.

Although he is only 34, it seems McCaw knows more than most about retirement. He and Dan Carter are high profile backers of the Arvida Group of retirement homes and McCaw is also a shareholder in the Kate Sheppard Rest Home and the Merivale Retirement Village.

He has also set up a community charity with fellow All Blacks Carter and Ali Williams under the brand For Everyone, which has branched out into bottled water and milk drinks.

During an astonishing 14-year career McCaw set many records. He is:

  • The most capped player in international history with 148 appearances and has the most Test starts of any player (141).
  • The most capped captain in world rugby after leading the All Blacks 110 times and has the most Test wins as captain (97)
  • The most successful player, with 131 Test wins. McCaw lost only 15 games during his career and drew twice
  • A three-time World Rugby Player of the Year award winner (2006, 2009, 2010) – a record he shares with Dan Carter
  • The first player to captain a side to back-to-back Rugby World Cup win, in 2011 and 2015
  • The first All Black to play 100 Tests (v France RWC 2011 pool match)

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