A golden era of Rugby

A golden era of Rugby

I try and tell myself that it’s important to enjoy the Rugby win or lose, which isn’t that difficult supporting the All Blacks, who win over 90% of their games,  or if you go back for the last 115 years or so, 78%.  Making it the most successful team anywhere, in any sport, league or country.

Well that feels better already! I woke up this morning wondering if it was a (bad) dream. No, it wasn’t.  I was suffering somewhere in the grief cycle. The grief cycle! Really? Shock-Anger-Resentment-Acceptance-Hope. Time to get a grip – it’s a game. Sports!

I love Rugby, especially the All Blacks. I’ve watched every game since 2008 which has been a stunning era in New Zealand Rugby. Even when they lose, they’ve sorted it out, taken the learnings and grown some more legs.

The trouble with a RWC playoff game, is that there’s no coming back. Well not for “four-more-years” (ouch). Hardly seems right, we get to change the government more frequently than that!

So what to do? Phone a friend, listen to some talk back (very briefly) to realise how really troubled some people are, find something that means something special to you other than Rugby – some selfish indulgence – maybe a new project, and if you’re stuck remind yourself that England would have to keep winning until long after you’ve gone to catch up!

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The last twelve years have been a golden era of Rugby for the All Blacks. It hasn’t ended, they won’t be #1 now on the official rankings or holder of the Webb Ellis Cup. But they’ll be back before you know it, thrilling us with entertaining and fast-paced rugby and a Haka that only us Kiwis get.  And mostly winning!

Stephen

p.s. Webb Ellis is the supposed inventor of the game of Rugby Union. He was an Anglican Clergyman. Little did he know he invented a new religion for New Zealand. He might be disappointed I sense.

#7 Leadership

When Richie McCaw announced his retirement from Rugby today it was in the same matter of fact and calm way in which he has led the world of rugby for what seems like forever.

I didn’t think I would but I felt quite sad. He’s become so intertwined with the All Blacks that even when he wasn’t on the field, somehow we knew he was there. It feels like a loss.

His leadership has been remarkable – from the front, never giving up, calm and resolute in the face of incredible aggravation, determined – the best role model you could ever hope for.

I said a couple of years ago to someone “you know, we’re in a golden era of Rugby right now”.  And we were, and I hope we still are!

It’s been an amazing ride to be on and I didn’t realise until today quite how important McCaw has been to my own enjoyment of the game. He didn’t just sneak the ball out of the ruck. He sneakily led us all along on a great journey with a climatic end at Twickenham. I was very honoured to see the All Blacks play a few weeks earlier at Olympic Stadium in London. I’m very glad I did, especially now.

Thank you is what to say to Richie McCaw. Every leader can take so much from you, including things we don’t even understand yet, but the results of your leadership are there for us all to revel in. Achievements that will go down in history. And the best Rugby ever!

Stephen

Anxious at number 23?

If you’re not wearing an All Blacks jersey on Sunday evening with the numbers 1 – 22 on it then like me and most of New Zealand you can have very little control over the result at Eden Park. Should anyone be anxious about what they can’t control and won’t directly impact them (arguably of course!)? Leaders who grow and develop others, and place trust in their teams shouldn’t be anxious about whether they will perform. They know that they will, partly because the leader does trust them. Which is probably why Graham Henry said he had nothing to say to the team immediately prior to the game. That’s their time he said.

Last Saturday, there were many wound up people, including in my home! Hearts thumping as we sat down to watch the All Blacks demolish our near neighbours.  At the end it was decided that the Cup was more or less ours, that the All Blacks couldn’t lose now, after such a performance and how poorly the French had played.

But quickly the anxiety crept back in: What if the French played really well? What if the ABs froze? Well, what if they did? Surely this All Blacks team are the best that they can possibly be and better than any team in the world right now. We know that. They know it, and partly because they don’t take it for granted. I trust them to do their best which will win them the game and the cup and make them World Champions for the next four years (at least).

I trust them because they’ve got all the resources, learnings and support that the best Rugby country in the world can give to the best 22 players in the world. I’m excited, but I’m not anxious: not because I can’t control it, but I know the best people are in control.

If you’re leading a team and you trust them you can relax and enjoy the fruits. If you don’t trust you’ll micro-manage, control and destroy any chance of great success.

If that doesn’t convince you imagine two businesses going for a big contract. Business A intends to delight and make money and opportunities for itself and all those it connects with.  The other Business, say Business F has a strategy to undermine Business A before it gets to the tender stage.  Like two teams going into a game: One is prepared, fit and has proven strategies that encourage fast try-scoring opportunities. The other reckons they’ll attempt to stomp on the foot of the captain of the other team. I know who I’d back! With a 22+ points lead at fulltime is what my money at the TAB is on.

Go the All Blacks! Can’t wait!

Stephen