Have a walk round the touchline on a Sunday morning and you will see kids distraught having just lost a game. To be honest, you might see that from some of the seniors on a Saturday too!
Losing can have a big effect on players and supporters but rugby is a game, like many others, which gives you another opportunity to play soon after a disappointing defeat. The next weekend always comes round quickly and should be something we look forward to rather than dreading.
None of us want to lose (we shouldn’t anyway!!!!), but it’s inevitably going to be something we all face in some way during our sporting lives at whatever level. We can learn so much from a loss and we should see it as something to benefit from. It gives us the chance to look back at performances and assess what we can do better from an individual and team perspective to ensure that we learn from the mistakes made. Those mistakes, at the time, are some of the most painful to take on the chin but once we have stepped away from the game and given ourselves time to look back, learning from the game is something we all need to do and something that is so much easier to do when we find disappointment. We have to think about what happened in a rational manner, hold our hands up and make honest assessments of what has gone wrong with the performance and then develop as players and coaches from the lessons learned.
During this learning process we are subject to some awkward situations that aren’t the most pleasant experiences to go through. Learning can be painful but that pain helps us develop our character and makes us stronger players. That strength can help us both on and off the field. It makes us more resilient to losing in the first place and can help the process of learning become more effective. We all know teams that have players who have not been subject to the testing times that sports present and those players don’t and won’t have the character and courage that players who have had to find their way through testing times demonstrate.
We have to find ways to get through a losing situation. It’s been caused by a break down in the performance of the team or the individuals within it. We need to address problems that are identified in the systems and find out their cause. This can be uncomfortable for the collective or the individual but it’s a process that needs to be done. Team systems, no matter how simple, are there to create a platform for players to demonstrate their skills and when they don’t work we need to work out what is going to rectify the situation. Losing creates an opportunity focus to grow and the result of this is us being a better player or coach.
Use the bad times to create the good times. It’s another way that rugby can help us as people, so much is said of the values we learn from the game but there is so much more to take. Losing is one of those processes we have to face at some point so use it positively. It’s a chance to get to where we want to be.