46 years of hurt, a shaky start to the tour and a rather demoralising defeat in the 1st Test, followed by a victory over 14 men, meant The Lions took to the Eden Park fortress as understandable underdogs.
Saturday’s third and final test appeared a real do or die scenario, and thus it created an extremely nerve-wracking occasion for both sets of fans. An interesting, if slightly anti-climatic finale saw the two sides draw the series, with everyone from the players to the spectators, unsure about what was actually going on. Yet, they can hold their heads high – a draw against the All Blacks in New Zealand is a great result.
Heart, courage, determination and pride are certainly necessities to victory at any level of Rugby, and all were on show on Saturday, for the world’s rugby community to see.
They are not the ‘be all and end all’. These qualities will only take you so far...especially when facing the world champions.
Written on a white board and consistently on show at past Lions tour team meetings is the following:
- 1) Scoring Tries
- 2) Ruthless/Clinical
- 3) Decisiveness
- 4) Smart/Intelligent
- 5) Accuracy
These 5 skills or traits were certainly evident in all three test matches; granted, to varying degrees, yet they were present nevertheless. They are also 5 skills that can be coached and embedded into players at grassroots level, even from a young age.
You may have all the heart and courage in the world, but without the skill set and knowledge to be able to create and score tries, more often than not you’ll not win games (discount the third test). Ultimately success is measured by victories and the more tries you score, the more points you'll amass. Simple maths but tough to execute.
Rugby is a game of opportunities; yet, opportunities can often be rare to present themselves, especially within tight games. When they do, in attack or defence, they need to be taken in a ruthless, clinical fashion. This is something the Lions got much better at as the series went on – Owen Farrell’s penalty in the 78th minute epitomised that.
Rugby is also a game of choices; making the right decision can win or lose a game and leadership is an important key to success – All players must practice and compete with decisiveness. Do not hesitate, make up your mind and commit to a cause.
A smarter team is a better team. Players who are able to showcase their smart thinking and intelligent movement during plays will be more successful than their opposition. Study the game you love and apply it accordingly. New Zealand play with amazing intelligence, yet the Lions were able to create a game plan that stifled the All Blacks creativity.
The core of success – accuracy, timing and execution applies to all those ingredients of Rugby – passing, kicking, tackling, synchronisation of runs and work at the breakdown must be ingrained from a young age. New Zealand are the most accurate the team on the planet, yet the Lions made sure in the second and third tests, they matched the All Blacks in this department. New Zealand made a number of errors; the Lions forced these.
There’s so much people can take from this amazing Lions tour, from junior rugby all the way through to those playing in their twilight years. It really was a magic spectacle.