What does the term ‘cap’ mean in Sport?

Australia presentation caps

Foreground to Background: Socceroos Appearance cap, the Baggy Green, Wallabies 1951 Honours Cap

In sport, we refer to those athletes that represent a select group, whether it be their national team, University, club or province – a ‘capped’ player.

Michael Clarke has 102 Test caps to his name, as he’s represented Australia in 102 Test matches. Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has 96 ‘caps’ to his name. Al Baxter has over 100 caps for the NSW Waratahs in the Super 15’s Rugby.

So where does the term ‘cap’ come from?

In the late 1800’s in England, the idea that teams wear matching shorts and shirts was not entirely embraced, so players would distinguish themselves as part of a team by wearing a style of school cap of the same colour. This practice was first approved in 1886 for association football after a proposal by N. Lane Jackson – founder of London club Corinthians, which then snowballed on to the International scene when the England national team would then be presented a white silk cap with a red rose on the front to acknowledge players each time they represented their country. The term for this soon became known as an ‘International Cap’.

The concept was quickly embraced by other sports such as Cricket, Rugby, Rowing, Bowls, Archery, Australian Rules and Athletics. Today, athletes tend to be awarded one cap in their inauguration to the select group or team (on debut), as opposed to each time they represented them (that would be a lot of caps for some).

Albion has had the privilege of manufacturing caps for some of the most revered athletes that have been awarded an cap in recent times, including Socceroos greats Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill, many cricketers including Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, AB de Villiers and Stephen Fleming, and Rugby greats George Greegan and John Eales.

View the Albion story here

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