As a long suffering Wallabies supporter (who started watching after we won the ’91 and ’99 Rugby World cups) I’ve known nothing but sustained mediocrity. We have won a few games here and there. But consistency is nowhere to be seen. We are the new Scotland! However thanks to Scott Johnson, even they look consistently dangerous.
The All Blacks on the other hand are the picture of consistency, glory and teamwork. Even a cursory glance at the World Rugby Rankings shows utter dominance. The All Blacks have been number 1 in the world since November 16, 2009. Up until the 2011 RWC final (in which the darkness did prevail) I looked forward to the quadrennial choking of the All Blacks. The World Cup was a place the All Blacks would lose for 20 glorious years.
But something stood out to me about the All Black Captain in the late naughties, Richie McCaw. There was something different about him and the way he operated. In many photo opportunities leading up to the 2011 World Cup, Richie refused to touch the William Webb Ellis Cup. Legend has it he said;
“I will touch the trophy only when i have earned the right”
Richie McCaw, arguably one of the greatest rugby players to walk the earth, refused to hold something he had not earned. Whilst accused by some of superstition, I reckon there is a beautiful reimagining of what it means to be a champion. No one would begrudge the legend, holding the trophy for a photo leading into his home World Cup. He had other ideas.
For Richie (I imagine), working toward holding the William Webb Ellis aloft had been a life long goal. The desire to win, the desire to lead a group of champions to glory would be somehow diminished if he touched the cup. It’s my view that he imagined his way into the path to glory. Fuelling his commitment to excellence, which ultimately paid off. How many other players touched the cup that year and went on to lose? I don’t for a moment presume to think this one moment catalysed the All Black World Cup victory however it was one of millions of decisions made that all moved Richie, and his All Blacks to back to back World Cup triumphs.
This use of imagination, of dreaming his way to glory paints a beautiful picture of our lives in this world. In so many instances we are caught in a constant struggle between future glory and instant gratification. In a world in which you can pretty much have whatever you like, whenever you want it. I reckon this is making us lazy, weaker and less hungry for true glory.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the father except through me.”
Following Jesus is a slow path to glory. There are no quick fixes in this life. In order for us to commit to obedience rather than instant gratification, i think we need to reimagine what this life is all about. Imagine ourselves into future glory, a life eternal with Jesus. It’s only when we fix our eyes on what truely matters, Jesus, that we will hold aloft the cup of eternal glory.
Richie took a million steps in the right direction and it paid off for him. Why would anything worth having be easy?
What would it look like for you to hold the cup of eternal glory?