Richie McCaw admits the King’s coronation dress code baffled him as he represented New Zealand at Westminster Abbey… and the World Cup-winning All Blacks captain reveals he has been inundated with messages after the royal occasion
- Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw took part in the coronation of King Charles III
- McCaw represented New Zealand at Westminster Abbey last weekend
- The former World Cup winner admitted he couldn’t turn down the royal invite
When Richie McCaw landed in New Zealand on Monday morning, jetlagged from the 11pm flight, his phone was inundated with messages. ‘Did we just see you on TV?’ asked friends and family after his surprise role in the king’s coronation.
Having been at the center of the procession when Charles III arrived at Westminster Abbey, McCaw recalled: “People were probably looking at their televisions and thinking, ‘What the hell is he doing there?
In response to their question, the former All Black captain told Mail Sport: “As New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth, I was blessed with the Order of New Zealand in 2016. is probably the highest honor you get in New Zealand, and I was part of that delegation that was invited to go to the coronation.
“A few months ago they asked me if I accepted and I thought: ‘You are not refusing the coronation of the king’. It was not until much later that they told me that I was supposed to be at a rehearsal on Thursday. I was there thinking, “What do I have to rehearse for?” It only clicked when I landed.
“Man, I was mixing it up with guys with the Victoria Cross, Lord Coe. I didn’t tell anyone at my house, so they were as surprised as anyone when they saw me walking in front of the king!
Richie McCaw won two Rugby World Cups during a distinguished international career with New Zealand
McCaw (right) represented New Zealand at the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey
One of rugby’s most iconic players, McCaw has trained as a helicopter pilot in Christchurch since retiring from rugby. But he was back in the spotlight last weekend, alongside Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron.
“All the heads of state were floating around and I thought, ‘This is the French president, this is the British prime minister,’ the 42-year-old said. “All these guys were floating around the room and then there to me, a bloody New Zealand rugby player!”
‘The songs and stuff are a bit foreign to Kiwis but the Brits do it very well. It was quite amazing to hear. I kept my invitation and my church schedule. They had your name printed in the service order which was pretty cool. I will keep them for a long time and show them.
“I pinched myself, really. From my childhood in the middle of New Zealand, my grandfather fought in the war and he always talked about the monarchy. They would have been amazed to see me at the king’s coronation a generation later.
McCaw has also trained as a helicopter pilot in New Zealand since retiring
McCaw admitted he thought of greeting former England player and Royal member Mike Tindall (middle)
Not one to be pompous and ceremonious, he admitted he was puzzled by the dress code: “I have the dress code for morning suits. In fact, I had to google what it meant.
“I thought the chances of me wearing it again were pretty low, so I just went out and hired one. Hands-on work. It’s a little easier to get costumes now that I am retired, a little easier to find the right haircut now that I’ve lost a bit.
“I was pretty happy that I got a good costume because everyone in the precession was there with their badges!” McCaw was not the only retired rugby player on duty, with Mike Tindall alongside his wife, Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara.
“I thought about waving at him from the back in the cheap seats!” joked McCaw. “I was looking for him on the way in but couldn’t time him. I’m sure I’ll catch him at the World Cup… we haven’t made any bets yet but there’s still time! I’m going to see how the All Blacks are doing in the Rugby Champ first!”