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Andy Burt

Andy Burt is a Wellington-based writer for allblacks.com and co-host of the All Blacks Podcast. He covers all levels of the domestic game in New Zealand and monitors the international game closely.

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Movie Review: Chasing Great

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Andy Burt     31 Aug 2016     Getty Images

Muhammad Ali’s When we were Kings is at the top of my list followed pretty closely by Fire in Babylon about the great West Indies cricket team of the 1970s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1977 classic Pumping Iron.

All of those documentaries managed to equally entertain, educate and inspire me. They gave a unique insight into their sport and showed what it really takes be the best in the world. 

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I walked into the cinema hoping that Chasing Great could tick just one of those boxes. When I walked out 103 minutes later, my top three list had just become a top four list.

Richie’s story is told through a mix of extraordinary match footage, archival video from the McCaw family library, interviews with those closest to him, behind the scenes coverage in the All Blacks camp, intimate moments with Richie and his family and well-crafted childhood re-enactments.

Charting his rise from a humble farm kid practicing the haka in the backyard to one of the world’s most feared and respected athletes, Chasing Great gives a unique insight into the character of Richie McCaw and his unrelenting drive for success.

We are taken from the high of being selected in the All Blacks at just 20-years-old to the low of the crushing quarter-final loss to France at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and rebounding with history-making making world cup wins in 2011 and 2015.

As captain in 2007, Richie led the All Blacks to their worst ever result at a Rugby World Cup and set about making sure his team wouldn’t crumble under pressure again.



He began working with forensic psychiatrist Ceri Evans to embrace the pressure in the lead up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. With the weight of a nation on Richie’s shoulders, we learn the extent of the foot injury which almost kept him out of the final and experience every bead of sweat and crushing tackle as Richie leads the All Blacks to their first Rugby World Cup victory in 24 years.

With unprecedented access to Richie McCaw and the All Blacks in 2015, the film makers thrust us deep into the All Blacks campaign to become the first team to win back-to-back Rugby World Cups.

The match footage is simply incredible and cinematic in its scale. A Rugby Championship match in Johannesburg shows just how significant the All Blacks are in South Africa. Thousands of fans wait just to catch a glimpse of the All Blacks as they hop off the team bus while 60,000 passionate fans cheer the Springboks on in a classic encounter at the imposing Ellis Park. Slow motion images capture the intensity of the battle like never seen before.

Despite knowing the outcome, the film’s journey through the 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign is still full of tension and drama as Richie and the All Blacks complete their sporting fairy tale with victory over Australia in the final. The unbridled elation in the All Blacks dressing room is a side of the team not seen before and offers a glimpse into the unity and culture of the All Blacks.

Early in the film we discover that an 8-year-old Richie made a plan to become a ‘great All Black’. Never the fastest, biggest, strongest or most skilled player, Chasing Great proves that ordinary people can achieve great things if they set their mind to it.

Chasing Great is in New Zealand cinemas from Thursday September 1 ahead of a global release.