Across grassroots rugby clubs in the UK, there are players that are called upon during the season to captain their club. It’s an important moment, responsibility to lead the team and set an example for your team mates to follow. We look at some of the ways that you might be able to improve your captaincy for the matches you are given the ‘arm band’.
The most obvious place to start are with the standards that need to be set. Each club will have a different set of values to stand by and, as a captain, it is important that before you take on the role you have a full understanding of what the club is about and what it means, not only to the players but to the club members for whom it’s been a place of huge importance for a number of years. Our local clubs have a huge place in all of our lives. As a captain, you should understand the impact that your role can have, not just on the team but on the club in general. Set the standards that you would expect others to live up to. That’s not always easy but, if we strive to stick to them then no one can ask any more of you. Standards are important both on field and off. Time keeping, kit, club roles, helping the junior players in the club and even attendance at training all rely on good standards being set, be the person to get that right.
On field, it might be easier to lead by example, playing with heart and enthusiasm is something that we all want to do. Maybe that’s the case, maybe it’s not, which ever the case, leading by example on the field, playing hard but fair and striving to set high standards of performance are important in your role as team captain. It’s not always easy to combine emotional states where you need to have a calm and analytical mind alongside an aggression which can allow you to perform at a high level. You need to as captain though so you need to find a way to make this work for you. Keeping a calm head allows you to manage your players, diffuse situations as well as being able to have that important chat with the referee in the correct tone of voice!!
Your role with the players is clear. They respect you as a player and a person, you wouldn’t have the job otherwise. You may or may not have to motivate your players, some need this more than others and you need to understand what motivates each one so that your pre game build up has something for everyone. In the amateur game, many of the players will have very similar motivations in playing which might make this easier but it can still be a daunting task. You need to have spent time before each game thinking clearly about what problems you need to have fixed from the last performance, how you want to transfer the skills you have practiced on Tuesday and Thursday into the weekend. It might be a local rivalry which can be the focus for a fixture, we all love those games, use it to get the best out of your players without letting them boil over - performance drops when players are too emotionally charged and more often than not this will see a card of some kind!! Managing the parts of the game where the other side has the momentum is important too, it’s inevitable and happens in each game, work out how your team is going to swing this momentum back in your favour but don’t become overawed by it.
The last thing to highlight would be when things really don’t go your way. A losing performance, when everything goes wrong. How do you respond? How do your team mates and those watching see you respond? Do you give up or do you keep fighting even when it seems futile to be doing so? Be honest, how would you say you react in these situations? Be a resilient player, don’t give up, no matter what digits are on the score board.
Captaincy is a privilege, not everyone has what it takes to be given the responsibility, give it your best, not just on the field but also in the club house and around the club. There are a large number of people that will appreciate your efforts.