Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Total Flanker Guide to: Captaincy

Some time ago I was asked the question: what does a captain actually do?

My response was quite unsatisfactory, with words like 'trust' and 'presence' and 'respect' scattered throughout, as if there was some kind of mystical recipe that just made a great captain.

Utter nonsense of course but I must say, after plenty of time to think about it, I doubt I can come up with anything else to describe what is required to be a great captain at the elite level.

At grassroots level, however, it's a different story.

I mentioned in my previous response that at school I took captaincy to mean that I had to call heads or tails before the game, choose which end to play and shout quite a lot during the game. When all is said and done, that really is about the long and the short of it - although if you want to be a really successful captain there are a few character traits that will undoubtedly help, namely:

  • Ego-mania. There's no point being captain unless you are a control freak who revels in the power and just loves being in charge. Absolute certainty that every decision you make (on or off the field) is the correct one is a must, as is the requirement that you love the sound of your own voice - important because pretty much no one else will (if they can be bothered to listen). You may think that you are imparting words of wisdom before the match or rousing the troops with inspired rhetoric but, honestly, all they hear is "blah, blah, blah."
  • Workaholism. There's no getting around this - if you are in employment when you start the season as captain there's a very good chance that you won't be by the time the season's finished. If you have a great relationship with your family at the start of your tenure, expect bitterness and acrimony by the end of it. Pretty much all of your time will need to be devoted to your club. Well run rugby clubs have Chairmen, Secretaries, Social Secretaries, Coaches, Fixtures Secretaries etc etc etc. Others tend to rely on the captain to do pretty much everything and, without exception, no one is grateful for what you do. You have been warned.
  • An incredibly thick skin. When elected you may well be one of the most popular members of your club. This will last until after the first selection meeting when the whispering campaign will be started by a disgruntled few who failed to make the team. Before long this campaign will have spread like wildfire throughout the club and people will be openly questioning your competence, character and parentage, especially if results don't go your way. The best way to deal with this is to be totally oblivious to it - and your ego-mania will certainly help in this regard. The other thing you should remember is that it's highly unlikely that your club will seek to remove you from your position or even allow you to resign as this would then involve other club members getting off their arses and doing some work.
For all of the above reasons scrum halves often make very good captains.

That's it - hope it helps.


Steve said...

Ahh, now I get it. Thanks.


Leg Break said...

A captain also calls for a drop-goal when 2 points down and on attack in the final 10 minutes of a close game.

Oh, hang on…

choirboy said...

And if you are fool enough to skipper anything except the 1xv, you spend all of Friday ringing round to find some eejit to play tight-head when all your subs get robbed by sides higher up the club.

Oh and you get to talk to the ref - joy...

foreverforward said...

Only Friday night! I found it started on a Wednesday and continued all Saturday morning up to minutes before kick off!

Oh and don't forget cutting the oranges up.