Nick Fear
Nick Fear
Senior Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

Ireland V England 2017

As an avid England rugby fan I sat down to watch last Saturday’s final match in the six nations with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement that England could win the first back to back grand slam of the six nations era and excitement that they could push past New Zealand’s world record 18 wins in a row by a Tier 1 nation. Trepidation because in all honesty England hadn’t been playing that well throughout the tournament, often relying on their “finishers” to get over the line and win the game.

There is no doubt that the England rugby team has come on leaps and bounds since the low points of 2015. Throughout the six nations it has often felt that they were “the better team”, usually more physical, powerful and quicker of thought than the opposition. Never the less for some reason things have not been working properly, the team just hasn’t quite been firing.

Therefore, it was no surprise to see an excellent and fired up Ireland side secure the win. As I watched the game and the aftermath I felt that there were major lessons for those of us involved in business.

Firstly; England still celebrated their success, despite disappointment. It is crucial to recognise success even within adversity, this will help the team stay positive and motivated. Obviously this has direct applicability towards business. For example, you might be below your financial target but if you’ve grown your turnover, won new clients or come through the absence of important staff that still needs to be recognised.

You learn more from losing than winning. England exited the 2015 world cup in an embarrassing fashion and much of what has come next has been built from the pain of that humiliation. If truth be told, for much of this season, England has won games by sheer force of will. The pain of losing will no doubt cause a re-think and allow for some creative thinking in how to take the team forward; it is difficult to change a winning team. Again from a business perspective, failure to achieve targets can make it easier to usher in new working procedures or to take a more proactive approach to changing culture.

It was impressive to see the manager Eddie Jones taking accountability after the game. When a team doesn’t perform in any walk of life it is important for those that run those teams to look at what they could be doing better. Equally, after an unparalleled run of success, those that run the RFU aren’t about to throw out Eddie and his coaching staff for one loss. Nor is Eddie Jones about to remove Dylan Hartley from the captaincy. As a leadership group they will be given the chance to continue to learn. Ultimate responsibility will be placed on the most experienced to help the least experienced develop.

Some of the players aren’t good enough or were deployed in the wrong positions. Elliot Daly is a multi talented rugby player but doesn’t play on the wing week in, week out. Mike Brown has been one of England’s best players for a number of years but is increasingly looking like his powers are waning. James Haskell is not a natural number 7. It may be time to bring through some new talent or to look at whether members of the team are being deployed in the right places. We’re not talking about dragging Steve Borthwick off the coach’s bench and sticking him back in the second row but rather consider whether Daly should replace Brown at full back. Again in a business sense, when all is going well it’s tempting to leave things as they are. When they are not it makes it easier to consider change.

Kudos to the competition. This one is fairly self explanatory, what are they doing well and what can be copied or learned.

There is probably a blog somewhere about how Ireland’s performance is applicable to a business scenario but as an England fan, I’m sure you’ll forgive me for writing it this way round.

To discuss any of the issues raised in this blog, if your team is tired of coming second best and would like to recruit some new talent – feel free to contact me in confidence.

For more information contact Nick Fear at BCL Legal.

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