King Charles coronation: Richie McCaw admits he had to google the dress code after receiving invite

Richie McCaw in London ahead of and at the coronation of King Charles.
Richie McCaw in London ahead of (L) and at the coronation of King Charles. Photo credit: BBC / @richiemccaw, Instagram

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has admitted he "didn't really tell anyone" he had been invited to the coronation of King Charles III earlier this month - causing his friends and family quite a shock when they spotted him during the televised ceremony. 

"People were probably watching their televisions and thinking, 'What the hell is he doing there?'" he joked.

Speaking to Daily Mail Sport, the father-of-three, 42, said he kept his invitation to the historic event hush-hush, despite his excitement at being able to witness first-hand a family he had grown up hearing stories about.

"From my upbringing in the middle of New Zealand, my grandfather fought during the war and he always used to talk about the Monarchy. They would have been blown away to see me at the crowning of the King a generation later," he told the outlet. 

With Aotearoa being a member of the Commonwealth, McCaw said he secured his invitation as a recipient of the Order of New Zealand, serving as a representative of Aotearoa and part of the country's delegation in the Royal Procession.

McCaw was appointed a member of the Order of New Zealand, the country's highest honour, in 2016.

"A couple of months ago they asked if I'd go along and I thought, 'You don't turn down the King's coronation'. It wasn't until much later on when they told me I needed to be at a rehearsal on the Thursday, I was there thinking, 'What do I have to rehearse for?' It only clicked when I landed," he told Daily Mail Sport.

However, it wasn't entirely smooth-sailing for the former flanker: not one for pomp and pageantry, he admitted he had to "google what the dress code meant" after receiving his invitation. 

The invitation had specified that guests were to wear morning dress: either a formal day dress or a morning suit, which is characterised by a black or grey coat with tails, trousers - typically pinstriped - a waistcoat, collared shirt and tie.  

"I thought the chances of me wearing it again are pretty low so I just went out and hired one. An off-the-peg job. It's a bit easier to get suits now I've retired, a bit easier to find the right fit now I've lost a bit [of weight]," he said.

Growing up hearing his grandfather speak of the monarchy, McCaw revealed he was "pinching" himself to be surrounded by the Royal Family and other international leaders during a poignant moment in history. 

"All the heads of state were floating around and I was thinking, 'That's the French president, that's the UK Prime Minister'. All these guys were floating around the room and then there's me, a bloody rugby player from New Zealand."

But he wasn't the only "bloody rugby player" in attendance, with English former rugby union player Mike Tindall - the husband of Princess Anne's daughter Zara - also at Westminster Abbey. 

McCaw told Daily Mail Sport he'll be keeping his invitation as well as his copy of the order of service "for a long time".