Fifty-six per cent of New Zealanders who are very interested in rugby think that Richie McCaw deserves to be seen as the greatest All Black of all time, according to a poll released by UMR Research today.
Participants were simply asked whether or not they believed that McCaw was the greatest All Black i.e. no alternative candidates were given.
UMR's monthly Online Omnibus survey also shows:
89% of all New Zealanders view Richie McCaw favourably, an improvement of 11% since the last time we did this poll in 2008. McCaw has overtaken Irene Van Dyk as our most-liked sporting celebrity, although Van Dyk's favourability rating remains very high (88% favourable, up 1% since 2008)
Valerie Adams is in equal second place on this list, with 88% favourable (up 25% since 2008)
Robbie Deans' favourability rating is down 17% over the same period, although 51% of us still have a favourable opinion of the current Wallabies and former Crusaders coach. 69% of Canterbury residents view Deans favourably.
Sonny Bill Williams is the most polarising name on this list, with 52% viewing him favourably and 37% unfavourably. He does better amongst league fans (69% favourable) than amongst rugby fans (62%), suggesting that any resentment from his controversial departure from the Bulldogs may be fading.
Rugby remains clearly our number one sport, with 63% interested in rugby (up 1% since 2010), with the next most popular being netball on 45% (up 3% since 2010).
The poll shows interest in two sports that generally do not get a lot of coverage, rowing and athletics, is as high as interest in motorsport, rugby league and football. This is likely to be fuelled by the Olympics, a poor Warriors performance and football's profile receding after the FIFA World Cup high.
UMR Research Director Gavin White said Recent players always have an advantage over their predecessors in these sorts of polls, but Richie McCaw's image seems very strong. The most-liked stars on this list; McCaw, Van Dyk and Adams; all conform to a recognisable archetype of New Zealand sports people: they're not flashy or boastful but seem to have a bloody-minded determination to win.
Note: The UMR Research SAYit Online Omnibus survey was conducted 12th to 25th October. It has a nationally representative sample of 1000 New Zealanders 18 years and over. The margin of error for a 50% figure at the '95% confidence level' is +/- 3.1%. The sample of those very interested in rugby is n=295, with a margin of error of 5.7%