HR Lessons from the Rugby World Cup

  28th September 2015      
 Company News, Human Resources, Recruitment

HR professionals can learn a lot and draw several parallels from the world of rugby. One of which is dealing with surprises.

Robin Brian has been watching the opening matches of the World Cup, which has already thrown up some big shocks — Japan’s 34-32 victory over South Africa and England’s last minute loss to Wales this weekend. Who knows what else the tournament will have in store?

This has prompted Robin to note some lessons from previous tournaments which HR professionals can learn from.

England, 2003 – A diverse range of age and experience goes a long way
England’s squad of 2003 showed that different generations can work together to create a strong team. Hooker, Dorian West was the oldest player in the squad at 36 years old, while the tournament’s star, Fly-Half Jonny Wilkinson, was only 24.

Although young, it was Wilkinson’s second World Cup. For some, this tournament would be their swan song, while others experienced their first. This range of experience and enthusiasm made England a formidable team and they went on to win.

Wales, 2007 – If it’s not going right, make a change
A year the Welsh team would like to forget in many ways. Knocked out in the group stages by Fiji, Head Coach Gareth Jenkins was promptly sacked. While this wasn’t a positive at the time, it did kick off a revival in Welsh Rugby.

New Zealander Warren Gatland was handed the coaching reigns, bringing with him his Defensive Coach Shaun Edwards. The two have turned Wales’ fortunes around, securing three Six Nations titles and coming within a point of reaching the world cup final in New Zealand in 2011. When things aren’t working, don’t be afraid to make a big change. Even at the top.

New Zealand, 2011 – Ensure you have talent in reserve
A pressure filled tournament for the All Blacks, as hosts they were strong favourites. Cool, calm and collected Fly-Half Dan Carter was chosen as Captain for the first time in their final group stage match against Canada. In a cruel twist of fate, he suffered a tournament-ending injury in the final training session before the game. Colin Slade was brought in to the starting line up, only to suffer an injury himself in the very next game. Aaron Cruden took over, and was expected to see out the rest of the tournament.

Unfortunately, he fell to injury too in the final This forced the All Blacks to bring on Stephen Donald, who went on to kick the winning points of the tournament. How important it is to have depth of talent and other members of the team competently trained and in a position to step up when needed.

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