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The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of the coach in relation to the perceived function of captains in professional rugby union. Participants were 8 elite male rugby coaches purposely sampled for this study. Participants were interviewed individually to gain an understanding of their experiences and perceptions of the role of the captain. The data were thematically analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Ten superordinate themes emerged in the study: types of captain, captain development, challenges, captains role, off-field responsibilities, nature of the job, selection, cultural architects, coach–captain relationship, and key attributes. Results suggest that coaches view the captain as an extension of their authority in the team, leadership groups are increasingly important to support captains, and the criteria for the selection of captains are still vague. As a result, future research should explore the development of specific evidence-based approaches to captain selection and development.
Cotterill is with the School of Psychology, Sport and Physical Activity, AECC University College, Bournemouth, United Kingdom, and the University of Winchester, Winchester, United Kingdom. Cheetham is with the Dept. of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Winchester, Winchester, United Kingdom. Fransen is with the Dept. of Movement Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.