Recently retired All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has been awarded New Zealand’s highest civil honour in recognition of his record-breaking international rugby career.

McCaw, who received the honour on his 35th birthday Thursday, has been appointed to the Order of New Zealand, an honour restricted to 20 living New Zealanders at any time.

He twice previously refused a knighthood, a lesser honour which would have entitled him to be called Sir Richie McCaw, and said on Thursday “I’ve never been comfortable with titles, it’s not who I am.”

McCaw said he felt extremely privileged to “join the list of some truly great New Zealanders.” Members of the order include golfer Sir Bob Charles.

McCaw led New Zealand to victories at the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, making them the first team to win back to back. He retired after playing a world record 148 tests.


He called it as “an incredible honour” to have his rugby career recognised in such a fashion.

“To join the list of some truly great New Zealanders is exceptionally humbling,” he said, sparing a thought for All Blacks who had helped him shape a career in which he twice captained the side to World Cup victories, 8-7 over France at Eden Park in 2011 and 34-17 over Australia at Twickenham in November.

“I’ve been so lucky to have played with some truly awesome men and while I receive this award, my team-mates are a huge part of our success over the years.

“I’ve loved every day playing for the All Blacks and I’m very proud of what we were able to achieve. I just see myself as an ordinary boy from Kurow who has been able to live a dream.”