7 great leaders, one cup – the making of “A Captain’s Cup” podcast series

In “A Captain’s Cup” the podcast series, Radio Sport host Daniel McHardy interviews every winning captain to find out what made their campaign a triumph.

From David Kirk’s iconic image in 1987 to Richie McCaw became the first captain to go back to back, we hear the stories from some of the greatest leaders international sport has ever seen.

Released in chronological order, this series will deliver the ultimate insight into what it takes to lead your country to rugby's grandest prize, A Captain’s Cup.

It took seven months of hard graft to get the Captain’s to agree to do the interviews. In this Q and A Radio Sport Producer Louis Herman-Watt talks about how A Captain’s Cup came together.

Where did the idea come from?

We started talking about how we get the people that know the most about Cup rugby together. We talked about coaches, players and then we started thinking about the game, the tactics, the strategies, the team selections, the nuances on the field and the politics of it.

We decided that the best people in the game to get us all those insights are the Captains. They are the ones that are invariably right in the middle.

They sit between the players and management. They talk to the players before they go on the field, they’re there after the final whistle goes, they front the media. Everyone looks to the Captains.

So how did you go about making it happen? Getting all 7 Cup Captains is a massive task - did you have to deal with the thought that it was an impossible one?

There was a bit of that, there was definitely that apprehension. You have to have a bit of blind faith in yourself.

You start at the beginning - and you just give it a go. In terms of tracking them down, we’ve all guessed email addresses before and we have lots of friends at Radio Sport, NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB. We have plenty of resourceful guys like Wynne Gray and Phil Gifford, those journos who have been around a long time and they helped. Then there’s just slowly sleuthing to get phone numbers and email addresses.

Then there’s the next bit which was getting the Captains to reply. You have to remember that they are based all over the world often doing completely different things now and some of them are barely involved with rugby at all. It’s one thing having Martin Johnson's phone number, but he can just screen you because he gets 10 of these calls a day.

So that’s where we targeted people close to them. Richie McCaw, David Kirk, John Eales and Nick Farr-Jones they were a bit easier, but for Martin Johnston, Francois Pienaar and John Smit it was about finding former managers, friends, business partners who were happy to help. That was how we did it, and through various charities, foundations, former agents too. And to be honest, a bit of good old spam - firing off lots of emails until one hit the mark.

Now that each of the interviews are ready to be shared with our audiences - what do you think of the results?

I think it could almost be used as a piece of recorded rugby history. Obviously, we are very proud of that work and it’s very exciting that it’s being published and broadcast. Hearing the stories from each of the Captains first hand it is quite spine-tingling and now that we have them all in one place - it’s like walking into a library. You want to know about whichever year and you can go to that section and hear from the person who was right in the middle of it all. If people listen to this one after the other, week on week like we hope they will, they are going to have a wealth of knowledge across the history of the Cup and I don’t see why we wouldn’t add to them every four years.

Can we expect surprises from each of the interviews?

Yeah - you kind of go into it thinking these Captains are going to have their media shields up and just revert to retelling old stories and you are not going to learn anything new. That’s probably a cynical journalist's point of view. But when we got these guys - we got them for an hour and that’s a long time in an interview. Long enough for them to go beyond their after-dinner speech routine and drop bits of gold.

To hear Martin Johnston talking about walking across Sydney in the rain with his wife and his dad after England won the cup… but leaving the cup behind because wanted to take the time with his family and not be stopped constantly to have pictures taken.

To hear about Francois Pienaar hitchhiking with Joel Stransky – after South Africa won the World Cup.

The famous stories about the ‘87 team going to the farms in the Wairarapa - there’s all this extra detail that you didn’t know about – there’s infinite gold!

“A Captain’s Cup”: Release timings

6 Sept: David Kirk

13 Sept: Nick Farr-Jones

20 Sept: Francois Pienaar

27 Sept: John Eales

4 Oct: Martin Johnson

11 Oct: John Smit

18 Oct: Richie McCaw

25 Oct: Richie McCaw

Catch them here

Daniel McHardy - Host

Louis Herman-Watt - Executive Producer

Chris Newbold - Audio Engineer

Gareth Lischner - Radio Sport Content Directo