The Lions captain must be able to influence the ref Posted almost 11 years ago

Brian O’Driscoll is likely to be the senior player on the Lions tour, but he would not be my choice of captain. On a Lions tour the setpiece and the breakdown are crucial to the outcome and you need a player who is in there close to the forward action, talking to the referee, making sure that they understand your team’s point of view.

Everything is contestable in rugby. There is nothing untoward in that. I am a great fan of Richie McCaw who is outstanding at managing the referee. The Lions don’t have a man of Richie’s captaincy experience in the forwards or at halfback, but they do need a captain who can exert an influence on the game.

The other weekend Steve Walsh looked worried every time the scrum went down. You could see the stress in his facial expression. It gets harder and harder for refs all the time, so it was a masterstroke of Wales to make Gethin Jenkins captain for the match against England. Wales dominated the match through the scrummage and all the subsequent scrum penalties they received. Subconsciously Jenkins’ status as captain must have influenced those decisions.

I work with my captains all the time on how they talk to the referee. It is a big part of the game. The captain of the Japanese national side is in his second year of an English language course. The language of rugby is English and it is vital he becomes more conversant with the referee.

At the Brumbies Jake White was working with David Pocock before his injury. Pocock had a habit of laughing when he didn’t agree with a decision. Refs don’t enjoy that. In one match the Brumbies hardly got another decision after Pocock reacted. So Jake worked with his captain on his body language and his facial expression.

I would pick Will Genia to captain Australia in the upcoming series against the Lions, not least because his own performance rises whenever he captains the Reds. But he is also articulate and talks well to the referees.

The Lions will need a similar diplomat because it could well be the difference between winning and losing the series. Chris Robshaw had a difficult time with Walsh on Saturday and that might count against him. He has not always been able to make his voice heard in the big matches.

Warren Gatland has a very difficult decision. He needs a man who can unite disparate nationalities, who is close to the action and who is fluent at speaking Referee.

Who would be your pick to lead the Lions in Australia? Comments below…

Enter your email address to continue reading

We frequently post interesting articles and comment from our world class content providers so please provide us with your email address and we will notify you when new articles are available.

We'll also get in touch with various news and updates that we think will interest you. We promise to not spam, sell, or otherwise abuse your address (you can unsubscribe at any time).

See all Leadership & Management videos


comments powered by Disqus

Eddie Jones has had an extensive coaching career holding roles with teams including the Brumbies, Reds, Saracens, Australia, South Africa and most recently Suntory. Following on from successfully leading the ACT Brumbies to their first Super 12 title in 2001 Jones took charge of the Wallabies for the 2003 World Cup on home soil, and fell at the final hurdle as his side were defeated in extra time of the final by Clive Woodward's England. He continued on as coach until 2005, when his contract was terminated following a wretched run of results. From here Jones had a stint in an advisory capacity with English side Saracens and in 2007 was then appointed Queensland Reds coach. He then turned his back on coaching Australia again when he signed in an advisory role with South Africa working closely with head coach Jake White, securing the 2007 World Cup. After the World Cup Jones took up a full time position back at Saracens as director of rugby but left in 2009 for a role with Japanese side Suntory. Jones remains in Japan and is now head coach of the Japanese national side.

Topic Leadership & Management
Applicable to Coaches  

Related articles

Coming Soon: Body position at the breakdown with Eddie Jones

In this module Eddie Jones works with Junior Japan on the body position of the 2nd player to the breakdown. The focus in this course is either securing the space or the ball, ensuring players stay on their feet.

Eddie Jones; Attack from 9 - Trailer

Eddie Jones provides his first module for The Rugby Site; ‘Attack from 9’.

Looking for a perfect 9

Eddie Jones discusses the different types of scrum-half play

If you want to be a great passer you must repeat yourself

Eddie Jones sees a growing shortage of midfield backs who can pass off both hands and points the finger at junior coaches

Deans needs strong leadership group to control aussie troublemakers

Australia’s biggest challenge is not the Lions, but making their twitter-mouths part of a team environment argues Eddie Jones