Having successfully used the concept of co-captains to win their back-to-back Super Rugby titles, the Waikato Chiefs have announced today that they will be extending the co-captaincy model so that everyone in the Chief’s squad will be considered co-captains during the 2014 Super Rugby season. At the same time, head coach Dave Rennie has elevated his former assistants alongside him, making himself, Wayne Smith, Tom Coventry and Andrew Strawbridge all co-coaches.
The move to extend the captaincy to all players caught rugby media off guard, who had widely expected Rennie to fill the leadership gap left by Craig Clarke’s overseas departure by naming All Black’s Aaron Cruden alongside Liam Messam as co-captains. However after having read out Cruden and Messam’s names as captains, Rennie proceeded to read out the names of every player on the Chief’s roster.
“Look, we acknowledge that this is a bit of a revolution in team leadership models,” admitted Rennie during the announcement. “But the co-captain concept has worked well for us and we all know it’s vital for team’s to keep on evolving. So as a group we sat down and thought about where we could take this concept, and it just came naturally that everyone on the field deserves to be a leader.”
When asked whether the team-wide co-captaincy model would create confusion during matches, Rennie revealed the team had already worked through that issue.
“What will happen is if we need to make an on-field decision, such as whether to kick for goal or the corner off a penalty, the team will get together and form two committees, each supporting one of the options. They’ll then have a quick debate which a nominee from each committee making their case before everyone votes on it. That way we get an outcome that everyone is responsible for.”
Despite their confidence in the new co-captain model working on-field, Rennie was less certain how it would work for managing substitutions.
“Oh yeah, that’s a good question. I’ll have to check with my co-coaches, but I guess we’ll have a vote on what we should do, the team will have to have a vote on field as to who to sub off while the guys on the bench have a vote on who to sub on. Hopefully we’ll get the right player on the field.”