One of the books I have “borrowed” from my mother’s bookshelf is the 1993 edition of Men in Black (a record of every All Black international between 1903 and 1993). The appendices include a list of various ‘mosts’: test caps, tries, points and so on.
As Richie McCaw prepares to run on for his 133rd game as an All Black*, equalling Colin Meads record, I thought it might be interesting to compare the 1993 Men in Black stats with the stats as of 13 September 2014.
Of course it is difficult to compare records across eras. Fully professional rugby only started in 1996, and the competition structures have utterly evolved. Whineray and Nepia and Lochore need to be honoured on their own terms. But the stats do suggest that we ought to be treasuring the present as something special.
* McCaw has only played one non-test match for the All Blacks: the 18-25 loss to the Barbarians in December 2009. He was 20 years 321 days old when he made his test debut.
Between 1955 and 1971, Colin Meads played 133 matches for the All Blacks, of which 55 were tests and 78 non-tests. He was 20 years 356 days old on his test debut, and 35 years 72 days old on his last test.