Maintaining Focus – a Lesson From Six Nations Rugby

||Maintaining Focus – a Lesson From Six Nations Rugby

Maintaining Focus – a Lesson From Six Nations Rugby

Crouch, touch, pause, engage. The Six Nations is underway.

And the first two rounds have served up a real feast of rugby. In a heavyweight clash in Dublin, England pulled off an upset, beating Ireland 32-20 and went on to comfortably beat France this weekend.

After a difficult 2018, the Red Rose appears to be turning the corner. The two matches have perhaps been the most complete performance of the Eddie Jones era. The abrasive Aussie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but, as a coach, he’s never afraid to think outside of the box as England’s build up to both matches has demonstrated.

After bonding over beers beforehand in training camp, his players used soapy balls to improve their handling. Nothing wrong with a bit of the old school…

But it was on a trip Down Under that the seeds of these victories were sown. With some typically forward thinking. A rugby match lasts 80 minutes.


The ball is in play for only about a third of that time. Brutal intensity is peppered with pauses. So, when the time comes, you need to get back into the game. Another Australian, Ric Charlesworth, is an expert in this area. A former cricketer and international hockey player, his research shows when a player does something – positive or negative – they lose focus.

This effect is amplified during moments of down time – fielding in cricket, or between shots in golf. So, when the action restarts, players aren’t mentally ready. Learning from Ric, Eddie hatched a plan…

If you watched the games, whenever play stops, England’s players form a huddle; planning, adjusting, recalibrating…

A mental reset, before the next phase of play begins, so they’re ready to move forward as one, because in international rugby not everything goes according to plan. Just like work…

…… where competing priorities and deadlines pull us in different directions, threatening to derail strategic alignment in pursuit of our shared goals.

So, let’s return to the pitch for a moment. Put yourself at the heart of the huddle, and channel this clarity of thought. Because if you think like a rugby captain, you can keep everyone on the same page:

  • Focus on what really matters – 20% of work generates 80% of result
  • Over planning just muddies the waters, so simplify your priorities
  • And just to be sure simplify them again.

Because unity of purpose under pressure is what sets great companies apart.

About the Author:

Rob has almost 40 years of business and client relationship management experience. He remains as passionate today about providing the highest levels of support and service as he did when he first stepped through the doors of Barclays Bank back in 1979! Rob held a number of leadership roles within business banking to pursue his growing interest in people development. He is hugely popular with many of our global clients across a broad range of industries.