What Is a Cap In Rugby?

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Written By Hutch

If you follow rugby news religiously, you’ve probably encountered the term ‘cap.’ But what does it entail? Our goal is to help you to know what a cap means. So, let’s dive in!

What Does A Cap Mean In Rugby?

The world of rugby holds the phrase ‘cap’ in high esteem. It symbolizes a player’s appearance in an official match. For instance, a player who represented his country ten times has earned ten caps. 

According to Wikipedia, the idea of earning a cap originates from the United Kingdom. In 1839, students from a Rugby school donned a cap when Queen Adelaide visited them. They retained the system of cap donning till 1940 so that they could recognize another.

What’s intriguing is that some sources have claimed that there’s no physical item involved. This is hardly reliable. Research has shown that in 1889-90, some rugby clubs rewarded about 18 deserving players with physical caps. The idea of Rugby caps brings the rich roots of the sport to the fore.

Criteria for Clinching a Cap

The criteria for clinching a rugby cap varies. It depends on the team and the caliber of the tournament. However, some popular criteria are:

  • Participating in an International Rugby match for a country: You can earn a cap when you represent your country’s team in an international match. In any case, it’s the most popular way to clinch a cap.
  • Participating in a match for a rugby team: Appearing for your team is also one way of clinching a cap. It does not matter whether it’s a domestic league game or not.

Types of Caps in Rugby

Rugby comes with different categories of caps, and they include:

  • International caps: Players earn this cap for participating in an official International Rugby match for their national team.
  • Club caps: Players earn this cap when they play rugby during a specific match or tour for their club. For instance, it could be a team’s tour or league games. Below is a table that shows three players with the most rugby caps history
Rugby playerNumber of Caps
Alun Wyn Jones170
Sam Whitelock153
Richie McCaw148



  • What’s a cap in rugby?

It’s a term for when a player has participated in an official match for the national team or club.

  1. What does a rugby cap signify?

It can signify the player’s milestones. It is often seen as an honor to be able to have an appearance for a club or national team.


Clinching a rugby cap means that a player has reached the peak of the game. They often look forward to clinching their first cap. Have you figured out the meaning of rugby caps and what they mean to a player? Accompany us for more insightful articles on rugby.

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