The All Blacks’ 2007 Rugby World Cup calamity against France has moulded them into a world-conquering team believes captain Richie McCaw.
On the eve of another quarter-final against the French in Cardiff, McCaw didn’t hide from the impact the 20-18 defeat had on his side eight years ago.
While his teammates have spent the week playing down the historical significance of their meltdown at Millennium Stadium, McCaw admits the game reshaped the All Blacks.
They won the 2011 tournament – beating France in the final – and have been the top-ranked team for more than six years.
McCaw’s team have won 92 of their 106 Tests since the 2007 tournament.
“I know what a disappointing day it was but it perhaps shaped what’s been eight years since,” McCaw said.
“Those days are the ones where you learn a few lessons and the good times have come since then.
“I guess I’m grateful that we get another opportunity to be in the quarter-final of another World Cup. That’s the bit that gets me going.”
Flanker McCaw and first five-eighth Dan Carter are the only survivors from the 2007 loss.
It could be the last Test for the two greats, with McCaw expected to announce his retirement after the tournament and Carter leaving for a French contract.
McCaw has found himself talking to inquisitive younger teammates this week about the 2007 game, with several of them still at secondary school at the time.
“We’ve had some good experiences (here) and one that wasn’t, but tomorrow’s a different day and that’s what we’re excited about,” he said.
“Really not a lot of thought goes back that far except acknowledging how tough quarterfinals are. Four years ago we had a tough one and that’s the way it should be.”
McCaw and New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster both brushed aside reports of disharmony within the French camp, expecting their opponents will once against rise to the occasion of RWC knockout rugby.