The experience of captaincy in professional sport: The case of elite professional rugby
The captain is perceived to be an important member of the leadership structure within teams across many professional sports. However, while there is a general acceptance that this is the case, there is very little research exploring the role and associated demands at an elite level. As a result, the aim of this study was to explore the captaincy experiences of elite professional rugby union captains. The participants were eight male captains purposefully sampled for this study. Participants were interviewed individually to gain an understanding of each participant’s captaincy experiences. The data were thematically analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Nine super-ordinate themes emerged in the study: role, skills, requirements, challenges, the coach, development, experience, context, and approach. Results suggest that the captaincy role is broader than previously highlighted, particularly at the elite level. Also, the study highlights inconsistencies in the selection of captains and a lack of formal developmental support for elite rugby captains. As a result, future research should explore the development of specific evidence-based approaches to captain selection and development.