‘England panic’ led to Wales victory

by admin on September 27, 2015

Before the weekend’s sport, we discussed the significance of coping with pressure. There were always going to be winners and losers, but the ability to execute under intense pressure would surely play a part. And so it proved to be at Twickenham in the Rugby World Cup.

Interesting to read the thoughts of rugby legend Sir Gareth Edwards, who described England’s panic, and how they failed to cope with the pressure of the big occasion. Others like Sir Clive Woodward commented that England captain Chris Robshaw might have been better going for the three point penalty with minutes left on the clock, a kick which would have drawn the sides level. Instead he gambled and went for the try, which of course did not come. It’s tough on the captain, he has to make these calls in the heat of the moment. And he clearly did what he felt was right at the time. It’s easy for the media to criticise such a decision – the same media perhaps who congratulated Japan on a similar decision, but with a different outcome a week earlier vs South Africa. But as Sir Gareth points out, it was the 12 penalties that England gave away, (and gave away to a side with a kicker who just couldn’t miss) evidence that they weren’t coping with the pressure, that really led to the Welsh victory.

England’s failure was not adapting to a referee who was clearly going to penalise any infringements at the breakdown. Whether he was right or wrong doesn’t matter. He is in charge, and it was up to England to recognise, learn and adapt – a skill set they clearly failed to deploy.

It could have been easy for Wales to convince themselves that it was not going to be their day. Already hit by injuries to key players prior to the start, their situation was further worsened as yet more players limped off. As England racked up a ten point lead, Wales could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop. ┬áBut they refused to allow themselves to be diverted or get into a ‘poor me’ loop. The Mindset throughout was superb, but as we have discussed before, Mindset alone doesn’t consistently deliver results. Where Wales also impressed was that there was clearly a plan, what we at Gazing Performance Systems refer to as ‘structure’. Warren Gatland is a master tactician, and he never sends his sides out without a plan. You can’t plan for every eventuality, but you can plan what to do in the most likely scenarios. In the second half, Wales had a plan. They chose to keep the ball in play, to take the set-pieces out of the equation, and they executed superbly against that.

In our businesses we can’t plan for every eventuality; there simply isn’t time. ┬áBut we can choose to have a Mindset that focuses on the task in hand, one that isn’t diverted by all the things going on around us. We can also plan for the most likely things that are going to trip us up. And we can make sure that our whole team is clear on the plan, and is ready to execute.


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