Six of the greatest captains of all time
New Zealand flanker Rickie McCaw will become the first rugby union player to captain his country in 100 Tests, when the All Blacks face Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The 33-year-old has forged a formidable record since leading the All Blacks out for the first time a decade ago, tasting defeat on only 12 occasions.
As well as being named IRB player of the year an unprecedented three-times, McCaw also led the Kiwi’s to their first Webb Ellis Trophy for 24-years in 2011, and is now beginning to be touted as one of the games greatest players.
But is he the best captain of all time?
Here are five others that could stand equal with McCaw in the pantheon of sports supreme leaders:
2 – Ricky Ponting (Australia cricket captain 2002-2012)
The former Australia batsman led the Baggy Greens to 50-over World Cup success in 2003 before taking on the captaincy in all formats two years later, where he would go on to win the 2005 Ashes series and retain the World Cup in 2007.
The 39-year-old called time on international cricket in November 2012 having accumulated an Australian record 48 Test wins as captain, averaging 51.85 with the bat, and bowing out only second to Sachin Tendulkar for most runs scored in five-day cricket.
3 – Steven Gerrard (Liverpool captain 2003-Present)
It’s hard to imagine where Liverpool would be without the talismanic role Gerrard has played since taking on the captains armband in 2003.
The 34-year-old has been the centerpiece of all things good for Liverpool over the last decade, leading them to Champions League glory in 2005, the FA Cup 12-months later, and the League Cup in 2012.
Most would have sympathised had Gerrard traded Merseyside for Madrid in search of the success he truly deserved, but that’s not in his DNA.
4 – Viv Richards (West Indies cricket captain 1985-1991)
The former West Indies cricketer will not only go down as one of the most explosive batsman of all time, but also one of the most games definitive captains.
Even the most talented of players can be affected by the added responsibility of captaincy, but not Richards. It only made the Antiguan more ruthless out in the middle.
The 62-year-old led the Windies for 50 Test matches and goes down as the only cricketer in the countries history never to have lost a Test series.
5 – Martin Johnson (England and Leicester captain 2000-2011)
Captain of a Lions tour success over South Africa, leader of five Premiership trophies and back-to-back Heineken Cup titles with Leicester Tigers, skipper of three Six Nation conquering sides with England, and last but not least, the first and last England captain to lift the World Cup.
Martin Johnson may not spring to mind as one of rugby’s star players, but the former lock will go down as one of the sports most formidable leaders on the pitch.
6 – Tony Jacklin (European Ryder Cup 1983-89)
The 70-year-old remains the most successful captain in Ryder Cup history. The English golfer competed in eight Ryder Cup’s as a player before turning his hand at leading Europe against the Americans.
America had endured a 28-year period of dominance before Jacklin replaced John Jacobs for the 1983 Ryder Cup in Florida. Jacklin would taste defeat in his first experience, but it would only spur him onto greater times.
Jacklin led Europe to consecutive victories and retained the trophy in his final year.
Notable mentions: Roy Keane, Michael Vaughan, Bryan Robson, and Didier Deschamps
Picture Credits: Jean Francois Beausejour