Tackling, passing, kicking: it’s Rugby World Cup time! When I watched my favourite team, the All Blacks, I realised that I can learn more from these gentlemen. The secret of long-term team success on and off the pitch. A craving to better oneself, a thirst to succeed, a great expectation passed down through generations, this is what we live for.

As a young boy growing up surrounded by sport, the one team that overshadowed the rest was the New Zealand Rugby Team. Sport is ever present in the lives of all but many do not realise how much it influences you in a social setting or working environment. New Zealand have earned respect for what they have been able to achieve on the pitch. With a phenomenal win record of over 75% across the last 100 years, it is the All Blacks respect for traditional values that distinguishes them from any other sporting team:

RESPONSIBILITY

For every new role, there are always big shoes to fill, but you are the writer of your own story. You have the choice of whether you succeed or fail. Every player of the All Blacks has big shoes to fill. With a catalogue of great names, every time a player steps out on to the field he has the desire to add to the All Blacks’ legacy.

You can apply this to any walk of life; our job is to represent all those who have come before us and all those who are yet to follow. As a new intern, it dawned on me that I’d have to live up to the previous intern and the brand name with a great team around me to support and guide me through.

PASSION

“You’ve got to keep reassessing, keep challenging yourself. I think that’s what kept me getting huge enjoyment and what keeps that passion burning is always looking at ways to be better.” Richie McCaw

In order to fully commit to something, whether it is your work, your hobbies or even your fitness, you have to have passion which drives you in order to succeed. Former All Black Brad Thorn’s mantra, ‘Champions Do Extra’, epitomises the team’s fortitude to succeed. Just like me, everyone has the desire to improve, do better and achieve more.

With a keen eye for tennis I always find time to do what I love. As much as I enjoy playing the game or working in my job there are times when you feel like giving up… when you are not performing as you should, or as you hope, the moment gets the better of you. It is at this point that you have to take one step back in order to make two strides forward.

The passion and drive for success is bigger than the moment you feel like giving up.

LEADERSHIP

On the back of a disappointing World Cup in 2007, New Zealand were struggling for form and were losing. A change in management saw a change in mindset. The team built themselves up with one captain and fifteen leaders; the philosophy epitomised by Tom Peters:

“Leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders.”

In the 2011 World Cup final the fourth choice fly-half, Stephen Donald, who wasn’t even in the team at the start of the tournament, was able to come into the match and kick the winning points; a leader on the day.

The famous haka is a Maori war dance which is performed by the All Blacks before the game. It underpins the team's approach.
The famous haka is a Maori war dance which is performed by the All Blacks before the game. It underpins the team’s approach.
Growing up with such admiration for the All Blacks and their philosophy for success, has taught me that New Zealand is not just a rugby team. They are a group of players who have a values-based culture that, with leadership, passion, and an awareness of the greater purpose, can bring them the success they deserve. The lessons that I have learnt from the All Blacks are not those that will help me win a rugby match on the field but life lessons that I can take with me along any path of life.

There is a New Zealand proverb: “he tangata he tangata he tangata” which translates as “the people, the people, the people”.

If I could pass on one message, it would be that from Steve Tew from NZRU:

“If you don’t have the right people, knowing exactly what they need to achieve, believing in what they want to achieve, sitting in the right seat in the bus, completely ruthless and committed to driving towards the performance necessary, you won’t be successful”.

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