MIND OVER MATTER – HOW PSYCHOLOGICAL TACTICS CAN HELP WIN THE RUGBY WORLD CUP
As England prepare to meet Fiji tomorrow (Friday) in the first game of the Rugby World Cup (18 September – 31 October), the players will be expected to be in peak condition physically – but what about mentally?
Tournaments are won and lost not only on the physical skills of the rugby players, but also by going into each game with a clear strategy and carefully worked out tactics, as well as a winning mentality.
THE PRESSURE OF REPRESENTING YOUR COUNTRY
England coach Stuart Lancaster recently said in a video interview with The Guardian newspaper: “It’s about representing your country, your family, your friends” – an indication of the pressure that players may feel under.
He also said: “Every team has an identity, whether you’re playing for your local club or your school team, it’s that identity that pulls you together.”
SKILLS FOR SUCCESS ON THE RUGBY PITCH
Each rugby player will naturally have an eye on their own performance, but at the same time they have to be aware of how to play as a team.
As well as team spirit, they need to go into each match with a single-minded winning attitude, leaving any personal problems or disagreements with team mates at the gate.
For those in charge – the manager, coach and captain – leadership qualities and organisational skills are paramount.
Here are some of the tactics that teams are using to prepare for the Rugby World Cup:
1. Reconnecting to history. English players have been earning awards during training in the name of English rugby international Arthur Harrison, who received the Victoria Cross for gallantry during the First World War.
2. Adjusting to crowd noise. The Fijian players have been training to a recording of crowd noise from Twickenham, including the English rugby anthem, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
3. No limits. The Welsh coach has pushed players to the limit both physically and mentally in training; the idea is to make the preparation harder than the games to give players confidence when it comes to the actual tournament.
4. Final countdown. South African coach Heyneke Meyer has said his strategy is to approach every game as if it were a final.
5. Noteworthy performance. New Zealand player’s apparently carry around notepads so that they can write down anything to come out of team meetings.
To sum up, when it comes down to the final whistle it’s a combination of physical prowess, mental preparation and teamwork that will count.