Standing on the side-line of my 16-year-old son’s school rugby team last week I was really impressed with what I saw, and I’m not just talking about the rugby.

Choosing to look at the team through a different lens it was the structure and process they have in place that really impressed me. Let me explain.

Firstly,  they had a starting team of fifteen, each of whom played a different position depending on their skill set and what the team required.  They had four subs who they could bring on when fatigue set in, performance dropped, or to cover injury.  They had the right people in the right places with a robust succession plan.

They had a game plan, which was based on the conditions, the opposition, and the style of rugby they wanted to play.  They had a shared vision and a clear goal.

The players prepared well.  There was a lengthy warm-up, they practiced their moves and their set plays.  They had a pre-game team talk where they reinforced the game plan, they spoke about representing their school with pride, playing for each other going into the game with the right attitude.  They were focused, committed, and aligned.

They lined up for the referee who checked their sprigs and mouthguards.  He spoke to the players about his zero tolerance for high tackles or foul play.  Everyone understood the Health and Safety protocols and the consequences of any breaches. 

Every player understood the game plan and the contribution they would need to make in pursuit of victory.  They were given the freedom to make decisions and play what was in front of them.  They had clear expectations, delegated authority, autonomy, and accountability.

They spent time on attack, scoring points through well-executed plays that breached the opposition line.  They were resolute on defence, refusing to have their line crossed.  They played as a team, with resilience and a competitive mindset.

They had a Captain and Vice-Captain who both led through their actions, rather than their words.  They played hard and fair, and the rest of the team followed the example they set.  They had strong, inspirational leadership.    

They played with intensity, heart and to the limit.  If they overstepped the mark however, they were penalised or yellow carded.  Those players let the team down and were held accountable for their actions by the referee.  There was a fair and transparent process for dealing with adverse behaviour.

At the end of the game they shook hands with the referee, the opposition team and then thanked the supporters.   They had values, played with a spirit of fairness, and showed gratitude.

There was a debrief after the game where they spoke of the things that went well and the things that didn’t.  They talked about ‘work ons’ for the next training session.  They celebrated success but always had a mindset of constant improvement.

So why is rugby so successful in this country?  It’s because as Kiwi’s we have an inherent expectation of success on the rugby field, the coaches create a platform for these players to excel and the players are empowered to execute in pursuit of victory.  

If you’re a Business Owner or Leader and you can resonate with this thinking, get in touch with us at The Alternative Board and let’s start developing your game plan.

The Alternative Board - OwnersAuckland SouthWhat do a well-managed team and a well-run business have in common? Plenty as it turns out.