Open Side: Lions legend Warburton explores leadership in new book

Endurance, ferocity and power – these are all qualities Sam Warburton displayed as a leader of the British & Irish Lions and Wales during his blockbuster career. [more]

Open Side: Lions legend Warburton explores leadership in new book

Not only a titan of Welsh rugby, Warburton became an icon of the game after announcing himself on the global stage in 2011 when he captained his country at the Rugby World Cup.

In doing so, he became the youngest ever skipper of Wales at the tournament, having already represented the nation at all junior levels as both a player and team captain.

His immense performances resulted in him being named as Lions captain for the famous 2013 Tour victory over Australia, before taking on the role again four years later in New Zealand.

Competition: Win a signed copy of Sam Warburton’s book – Open Side

An historic 1-1 series draw against the All Blacks sealed his legacy, ensuring Warburton became the first Lions captain to never lose a Test series in the professional era.

Google Ad Manager – In Article

Warburton has now delved into his story of a career at the game’s coalface in his new book Open Side, which provides an extraordinary insight into the highs and lows of modern rugby.

Open Side is not simply chronological retelling of events or celebration of statistics, though, concentrating instead on exploring the nature of leadership and the value of self-control.

Making the most of the experience he gained from pitting himself against the world’s best, Warburton delivers a compelling account on the realities of the dressing room.

With a particular focus on the 2013 and 2017 Lions Tours, he details the seven aspects of leadership: Personality, Professionalism, Performance, Perspective, Positivity, Persistence and People.

Below is a selection of some of the key quotes from the great man, highlighting the lessons he learned about leadership over the years as the captain of the Lions and Wales.


“It might sound obvious, but one of the first rules of leadership is this: know who you are. There are as many different styles of leadership as there are personality types.”


“Professionalism is about giving your very best, using your talent to the maximum and being highly competitive… about how you conduct yourself on and off the pitch.”


“As a leader, you need to maintain your own performance levels, not just for the team’s sake – they can’t afford to be carrying a passenger – but for your own too.”


“Every leader needs input from others to allow them to make the best decisions possible. They need perspective, and they can only get that perspective by consulting others.”


“A leader has to be positive. That was one of the first thing Gats [Warren Gatland] saw in me that made him think I could captain Wales… the way I was always optimistic.”


“No leader is perfect, no matter how good they think they are. Every leader always has room for improvement… Accepting the first and pursuing the second come down to the same thing: persistence.”


“Being able to get the best out of people is key to being a leader. Some people need a kick up the arse every now and then; others need an arm around the shoulder.”

Open Side is available now and in all good book shops. You can enter the competition to win one of the specially designed Lions versions of the book here.

Alternatively, to buy a regular copy of Open Side, visit

Previous story Mako and Jack back but on bench for England
Next story Ireland stay on track with Russia success