Mag­nif­i­cent 7

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CON­TENTS -

We look at the seven men who have cap­tained their team to World Cup glory and ask if there are qual­i­ties they all share.

What does it take to cap­tain a team to World Cup vic­tory? We look at the seven men who have done it and as­sess whether they had sim­i­lar qual­i­ties or at­tributes and try to pro­vide some kind of in­sight into what kind of leader is needed to be suc­cess­ful.


TOUR­NA­MENT: 1987 PO­SI­TION: Half­back AGE ON DE­BUT: 24 AGE WHEN FIRST CAP­TAIN: 25 CAPS BE­FORE BE­COM­ING CAP­TAIN: 4 TESTS AS CAP­TAIN: 11 TO­TAL CAPS: 17 KEY QUAL­I­TIES: Huge in­tel­lect. Emo­tional in­tel­li­gence. Ar­tic­u­late, worldly and cog­ni­tive of team dy­nam­ics and the re­spec­tive strengths and weak­nesses of those around him.

David Kirk, it could be said, was an atyp­i­cal All Black cap­tain. He wasn’t a blood, guts and thun­der or­a­tor, or a man of the land, fol­low-me, type of leader. There isn’t re­ally any con­ve­nient box in which to place him.

Kirk has a huge in­tel­lect. He’s a deeply ed­u­cated man – has med­i­cal and law de­grees – with a huge cere­bral ca­pac­ity. Th­ese were the qual­i­ties that earned him the All Black cap­taincy when Andy Dal­ton was un­able to play at the 1987 World Cup.

Dal­ton was a sim­ple, gee-them-up sort – cap­tain on the ba­sis of his longevity, se­nior­ity and com­mit­ment to the team. Kirk was ar­tic­u­late, smart – al­most on a dif­fer­ent level to his team­mates. He wasn’t uni­ver­sally pop­u­lar – hav­ing made the de­ci­sion on moral grounds not to tour South Africa in 1986 with the rebel Cava­liers.

But if some of the se­nior All Blacks were wary about him, they didn’t show it in 1987.

They backed Kirk as cap­tain and played for him. They were a gal­vanised and united force and that was largely down to Kirk tak­ing a light touch ap­proach as leader.

He had big per­son­al­i­ties and strong char­ac­ters such as Buck Shelford, Sean Fitz­patrick, Gary Whet­ton and Grant Fox whom he could trust to lead and unite the team. Kirk’s emo­tional in­tel­li­gence, tem­per­a­ment and un­der­stand­ing of the col­lec­tive de­sire was a crit­i­cal fac­tor in his abil­ity to em­power oth­ers and play an un­der­stated role as cap­tain. Kirk, who re­tired the year af­ter the World Cup at 26, has shown the depth of his char­ac­ter and breadth of his vi­sion in the busi­ness world where he has held sev­eral se­nior roles with ma­jor or­gan­i­sa­tions and made mil­lions.

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