When the Rugby World Cup came around I was very excited but also disappointed to be so far from the action. I love Rugby. The game evokes fond memories of cold winter days firstly watching with my father, and latterly working for, Saracens RFC. Rugby, like much sport, creates life lessons we all can learn from, the creation of leaders, opportunities to step up, and recover when things don’t go as we had hoped.
Unfortunately the results in the Rugby World Cup have not gone my way so far, with my host and home nation both losing, one more surprisingly than the other, in the first two games. As my husband so succinctly and fairly drunkenly put it ‘I know it shouldn’t matter, as a proper adult, but it does’.
BUT this has given us the opportunity to observe how professional athletes accept the challenge of recovering after a setback. Before we go on to look at England and South Africa, credit needs to be given to Japan and Wales both exemplified the overwhelming power of passion and belief in beating two of the pre-tournament favourites. Despite the odds, and the opinions of others, these two teams had the faith that they would win, created a strategy and implemented it to perfection to gain the desired result. That’s a good lesson for those of us facing steep odds at work or at home. Thanks Japan, you too Wales.
Also I think we are about to learn a lot about the two losing nations. They need to refocus on remember their strengths, they have not become bad teams overnight, they have world class players and a strategy to implement. Sure the road is tougher but they can still win the World Cup.
Some questions and observations for my two teams:
1. Who is going to step up? In these situations leaders must come forward. Both South Africa and England lacked leadership, now we will see if anyone wants to put their hands up. When England lost to South Africa and France to Tonga in previous world cups it galvanised the teams and made leaders of men -- both made world cup finals.
2. Will they learn from their mistakes? Einstien said
Will South Africa expect to role over any other team? Will England stop playing with 10minutes to go or not take the points when offered? Will they adapt to create a new strategy? They probably already have it all worked out, have a plan for set backs, so now they just need to implement their plan B or C.
3. How will they mentally accept the loses and block out the negativity from the media? What mental strategies will they be using to refocus, and forget the past to remember the job they have come to do.
4. Do they use positive psychology - thus focus on their strengths as a team, remembering previous victories, and occasions when they have overcome setbacks before? Or do they simply remove struggling members of the team?
How do you recover from a World Cup setback?
You use the set back as a strength, to learn from. Your plan B C and D has been created in advance. Tools are in place to analyse the game critically, not emotionally and decisions made on the evidence. You refocus on the goal, control your emotions and get on with it. Finally support your teammates to do the same.
Good advice for us all.