Recently in my column I talked about the issue of two captains being appointed and in it I commented why two may be three or even all fifteen. Reading an article on motivation I came across the following written by Dan Cottrell the editor of better rugbycoaching. “At a very junior level, every player should have a go at being the captain. The role is really restricted to calling the toss of the coin, and probably being told what decision to make if guessed correctly.”
This is to help the process of team building which requires grooming to take on responsibility. Those who fit into the shoes will climb and get themselves seated in the hot seat. Being the captain tasks you with the responsibility of challenging the players to better performance. The captain who comes up the ladder and secures his place need to be able to see plan and dream to create that little more needed for sealing victory . The importance to dream cannot be underscored. It is not only for him to fantasize, he has to help players to imagine giving their best. The selection of a captain should include many things than just a senior name or a player who may be brilliant but otherwise unable to lead. The required characteristics include the ability to communicate in simple terms, give security to players and to build their self esteem. Put all these together and the need revolves around a motivator captain.
The captain is the main point of contact between the referee and team. Rugby has a lot of respect for the referee and much of this stems from this relationship. The captain needs to feed through any problems from the team and vice versa from the referee. This is now an important aspect of the game with referees urged to manage than to penalize.
Top all this up with the requirement of the captain being the decision maker and the whether it be straight options as what do when awarded a penalty kick. Then he has to make the more important ones in making tactical decisions depending on what is happening in the game.
In most rugby corners whether it be schools or clubs this is decision time and the moment for appointing captains. Most would have done so by now. The question have is whether we take time to build captains and whether once appointed the captain is coached to perform his role.
Or do we come to the national level and then start looking for a captain setting the wheels of dissent and backroom maneuvres in motion. What should be done at the junior level should not be the experimented at top levels. This will be an important issue for the new administration of national rugby as new leadership is due to take office next month. With important events such as the Hong Kong sevens and Asian five nations series division 2 due within the first quarter there is a lot of work that need to be done .
The requirement of the on field captain is virtually the same that fit into the Role of Captain of the national body. Known as the President the role is virtually that of the Captain. He has to take responsibility. He has to dream and fantasize, be a good communicator and lead others to do a job to get the end result. He should be able to challenge the others to work to get the best.
Two things that the new president has to tackle in the early stages of office is to take the role of an effective communicator so that the message is clear. It should be simple and clear and understood by all and not emotionally driven. This includes not only the playing clubs and the hierarchy but the selectors too.
Of course he has the major role of being the point of contact with the referee. That includes the Minister of Sports and the rugby community. The message has to be given both ways problems of the players having to be taken by the players being the clubs and what the referee wants need to be communicated to the players. The president like the captain has to take responsibility when decisions are made and shoulder responsibility when errors of judgment occur.
Then victory will be on your side with the final winner being rugby.
Of course there won’t be any coaching of the captain but you have an involved and infirmed rugby community who can help you. As it stands all roads lead to Asanga Seneviratne the Present Vice President taking over as captain unless somebody enters from the side door. Unless if something unexpected happens. What is needed from there is to make things simple and understandable not ask for complicated, over-elaborate or over-ambitious targets.
= Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB