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Captaincy - to nominate or to let the players decide for themselves?

Igor Martins

Academy Player
Apr 11, 2011
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Hello everyone!

I know I never really post anything here but I'm following you guys since the last World Cup. So first let me thank you all for the opportunity to learn a bit more about our beloved sport! =]

A couple of months ago I started coaching a group between 15 to 20 U-16 players (our very first youth team!). Problem is, what should I do about the skipper thing? Should I nominate him directly or should I let the kids to choose among themselves? As you may notice, I'm from Brazil and this is their very first contact with the sport, so they have little to no clue on how important is the role of a captain in rugby... As J. S. Mill said, "the uncultivated cannot be competent judges of cultivation".

Any thoughts?

Voting is a big no-no imo. At that age, you can't avoid it being a popularity contest. Even if they were all particularly mature for their age, they know each other and they have pre-conceived ideas about each others strengths and weaknesses that may not translate well onto the pitch.

You should make the final pick. You need to, because:
1. you have fewer pre-conceived ideas about the players
2. you're in a better position to pick a player who you can work well with
3. you're in a better position to see the bigger picture in terms of who can communicate your vision

However, you still have to make sure to pick a player that will be respected. Just don't turn someone into a "coach's pet". Picking the least popular guy of the group isn't going to work.

Pick your favourite candidate and approach them imo.

Another possibility, which might work even better, could be to ask each player to nominate 3 or so players in a secret ballot, tally up the votes, and you make the final pick from the top 5 or so on the tally. You get the final decision, and it encourages participation. Just don't release the vote tallies.
I think it should be up to you as the coach but usually there is one or two guys in a team who stand out as captaincy option and you should talk to them about it.
However, you still have to make sure to pick a player that will be respected.

Very true, we had a game once when both the captain and the vice-captain were unavailable so we had one of the older(experienced) players (a prop) appointed as captain. Even if the scrum listened to him (as they did in every game, since he was the leader of the pack) he had limited influence to the 3/4 line, they did not see him as their leader on the pitch and struggled a bit.

SO besides the respect of the team, the captain has to have the knowledge of all the areas of the game and he should be an example regarding discipline.
I think you need to make the final selection for the captain as he is in part an extention of you on the pitch and should know what you would want on the field as far as it is possible. Communication is key (you need to be able to effectively communicate what you want to the captain and he needs to be able to be a relay between you and the team on the pitch as well as be an effective go-between between the ref and the rest of the team) as well as a sound knowledge of the game.

That said he needs to be respected by the other members of the team. Popularity is not as important as being respected in a leader IMO.
I'd let them vote, just try to make it clear to them how important it is. It'll make them feel more ownership for their team and it needs to be someone who has respect. It's worked well enough for the teams I've been involved in.

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