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News article - Style G 2688

19th March 2007

Xavier Joseph Rush was born in Auckland in 1977, sport was in the blood with his father John a New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion.

“I’ve got four older siblings: two older brothers and two older sisters. Both my brothers played rugby for the college First XV, one at Lock and one at Number 6. My sister was also very athletic and went on to play for the Black Ferns the New Zealand women’s national team.

"I think she had 30 or 40 caps and played in two rugby world cups, she was also named player of the world cup, so she’s the real star of the family to be honest. “

As in Wales, rugby in New Zealand is a huge part of many youngsters’ lives and Xavier was no exception, he would spend hours every day playing rugby.

“Most kids at the age of five are taken down to the local rugby club by their fathers, and that’s what happened to me. Instantly I just loved it. I remember as a youngster growing up I’d cycle to training and cycle home, it was great for fitness but sometimes I’d be lucky enough to get a lift”

The grounding in rugby firmly established, Xavier graduated to secondary school where he followed in some illustrious footsteps. His former school Sacred Heart College has a great rugby history producing over 15 All Blacks with former pupils such as Sean Fitzpatrick as well as musician brothers Tim and Neil Finn of Crowded House.

Xavier then went on to play domestic rugby with Auckland in the National Provincial Championship and Super 12 side the Blues and won the NPC with Auckland in 2002 and the Super 12 with the Blues in 2003. He captained both teams and lifted the Ranfurly Shield with Auckland in 2003.

With a break in the Magners League during the 6 Nations many players made the most of the break, with Xavier returning home to the land of the long white cloud for the first time in nearly two years.

“I was fortunate to have time off during the Six Nations and be able to return home for a few weeks which was brilliant. I hadn’t been home for close to two years since arriving in Cardiff.”

“But to be honest I hadn’t really missed it as I’d made my decision to leave and when it was my time to go and I was ready for the new challenge. When I did go back I was in a much more relaxed state and went for a holiday - of course it was summer over there also which was great.”

Obviously the big Kiwi has settled in well in Cardiff and is enjoying his rugby. He was an instant hit with the fans with both his aggressive attacking play and leadership qualities being appreciated by all. Rush was named as The Supporters’ Club Player of the Season for 2005/06:

“I’ve really enjoy playing in Cardiff the crowds can be vocal which is a boost and we’ve progressed well over the last few seasons.”

“Our squad is improving and we’ve got some good guys coming through the system. We’re still a young side so there will be some maturing over the next few years and I just feel we’re heading in the right direction.”

Xavier was only 21 when he made his test debut for the All Blacks against the Wallabies in 1998. In 2004 he was recalled in to the New Zealand team that played in the Tri Nations before going on to win caps against England and the Pacific Islanders.

In 2007 Xavier was given the captaincy at Cardiff Blues, a role that he had served with distinction during his time in New Zealand, with Auckland and the Blues.

“I think I had close to 10 campaigns as captain either in the Super 12 or in the NPC and I think I really enjoyed not being captain here in my first season. It’s taken me a little time to get used to captaincy again and settle in but when you come to a new club it’s hard because you are captaining players from a different country and they sort of tick a different box to what I’m used to. But I’m getting to grips with it and started to enjoy it.”

Having been successful in both Super 12 and Ranfurly Shield Xavier has plenty of experience in knowing what it takes to be a successful side and to play in big matches

“You can’t let the occasion get to you.” he said. “Guys who play well are guys who enjoy it. My first big final was in 1998 Super 12 Finals and Graham Henry told me not to let the occasion get to us, but to enjoy it, and that stuck with me. Don’t let the days get to you.”

“The same is the case with semi final. You’ve got to concentrate on yourself and put your best foot forward and play to your ability. That’s all anyone can ask of you and if you lose then you can live with it.”

Obviously he is looking forward to the big match and is predicting a great game with no plans of hanging up his boots just yet.

“There should be a lot of fans at the stadium supporting their region - it should be a great day and great game. Both sides will want to go out there and play rugby.”

“We’ve had two pretty good games against each other this year, it’s one all, and now it’s obviously winner takes all.”

“I’m still enjoying my rugby and living in the moment. I have a rough plan in place what to do after rugby but for now I’m just enjoying being out on the pitch”

Cardiff Blues are leading ticket sales for the EDF Energy Cup semi final against the Ospreys on Saturday 24 March, kick off 5.15pm. Tickets are available by calling the Cardiff Blues Ticket Office on 029 2030 2030 or to buy online at