Cap (sport)

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Sports cap awarded to a Perth Academy schoolboy in Scotland in the 1930s School-sport-cap-1930.jpg
Sports cap awarded to a Perth Academy schoolboy in Scotland in the 1930s

In sport, a cap is a metaphorical term for a player's appearance in a game at international level. The term dates from the practice in the United Kingdom of awarding a cap to every player in an international match of association football. In the early days of football, the concept of each team wearing a set of matching shirts had not been universally adopted, so each side would distinguish itself from the other by wearing a specific sort of cap.

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An early illustration of the first international football match between Scotland and England in 1872 shows the Scottish players wearing cowls, and the English wearing a variety of school caps. The practice was first approved on 10 May 1886 for association football after a proposal made by N. Lane Jackson, founder of the Corinthians:

That all players taking part for England in future international matches be presented with a white silk cap with red rose embroidered on the front. These to be termed International Caps. [1]

The act of awarding a cap is now international and is applied to other sports. Although in some sports physical caps may not now always be given (whether at all or for each appearance) the term "cap" for an international or other appearance has been retained as an indicator of the number of occasions on which a sportsperson has represented a team in a particular sport. Thus, a "cap" is awarded for each game played and so a player who has played x games, for the team, is said to have been capped x times or have won x caps.

The practice of awarding a physical cap varies from sport to sport. It may be awarded prior to a player's debut or, particularly for national teams, a commemorative cap may be awarded after a player reaches the 100th cap. [2] [3]

Association football

As an example, the men's association football teams still awards physical caps. Players are awarded one cap for every match they play—unless they play in a World Cup or European Championship finals tournament. Then they are given a single cap for the competition—with the names of all their opponents stitched into the fabric of the cap itself. For example, when David Beckham made his one hundredth appearance for England, because a number of his appearances had been at World Cup and European Championship final tournaments for which he only one cap, he received only his 85th physical cap. [4]

The world record holder for the highest number of international caps as of 5 November 2010 is retired American player Kristine Lilly, who has 354 caps (between 1987 and 2010). In men's association football, the record belongs to former player Ahmed Hassan of Egypt; he surpassed Claudio Suárez with his 178th cap on 27 March 2012. The first footballer to win 100 international caps was Billy Wright of England's Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wright went on to appear 105 times for England, 90 of them he obtained whilst he was a captain.

FIFA rules state that any club that refuses to release a player for national team duty is barred from using the player for two matches, a rule which is intended to discourage clubs from pretending that the player is injured. However, it is a player's choice to refuse to play for or retire from his or her national team.

Records

Some current leading holders of association football caps (as of 8 September 2019) are:

Men

Bold denotes players currently active in international football.

Women

Bold denotes players currently active in international football.

Cricket

As in association football, cricket still awards a physical cap. Caps are awarded both at international and domestic level, however the criteria for winning a cap differs between international and domestic cricket.

In international cricket, a player is awarded a cap for every appearance made. It is common for a player to be presented with their cap in a ceremony on the first morning of their maiden Test match, although a physical cap may not be presented for every occasion on which a player represents his country. International caps are numbered according to the number of players who have represented the country before. For example, cap number 50 is awarded to the fiftieth player to represent the country.

In some domestic cricket competitions, caps are also awarded. However, they are often not awarded automatically for every appearance made, rather at the discretion of the administrators of the club for whom the recipient plays. The most prevalent example of the latter system is in Englishcounty cricket, in which many First Class counties award a "county cap" to players.

Notes

^ For South Africa, current cap numbers start from their readmission to Test cricket.

Records

As of October 2019, 65 players have won 100 or more caps in Test cricket. The most capped players are:

Players still active at Test level are in bold type.

Rugby union

In rugby union, 40 players have reached 100 international caps as of 27 Oct 2019. Players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are eligible for selection to the British and Irish Lions touring squad. Lions matches are classed as full international tests, and caps are awarded. The Pacific Islanders team, composed of players from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Niue and Cook Islands have a similar arrangement, although no players involved have so far reached 100 caps (Fijian Nicky Little is closest with 71 caps).

Players still active at Test level are in bold type.

Rugby league

In rugby league, only three players have achieved 50 Test match caps. The record for most caps is held by former Australian Kangaroos player & captain Darren Lockyer with 59 games. Former New Zealand Kiwis player & captain Ruben Wiki has 55 caps, and the current Australian Kangaroos player & captain Cameron Smith has 50 caps.

Players still active at Test level are in bold type.

The most capped Briton is Warrington Wolves forward Adrian Morley, who has 52 caps (30 for Great Britain, 22 for England).

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References

  1. "What does the term 'Cap' mean in sport?". albionsports.wordpress.com. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  2. "All Blacks century-makers: What it takes to crack 100". The New Zealand Herald . 9 October 2015.
  3. "Steven Gerrard memorabilia to be exhibited at Anfield". Sky Sports. 15 May 2015.
  4. "Don't tell anyone, but this is only Beckham's 85th cap". Reuters . Retrieved 20 September 2018.