7 lessons from the Springboks

The Springboks are rugby world cup champions.

Underdogs they were, and yet they bringing home the trophy.

How did they do it?

  1. They acknowledge their weaknesses. In comparison to the skills of the Kiwi’s and Aussies, the Boks are poor passers of the ball. Instead of pretending they can pass, they simply keep the ball tight, and kick a lot. In the business world there is no upside in pretending to be something you’re not. The truth will quickly be exposed and you will fail.
  2. They ignored the crowd. Springbok rugby has never been an advert for the game. Media pundits are always criticising their style, but the Boks ignore the critics. They win ugly. But they win nevertheless. Winning is the most important thing, both in sport and business.
  3. They’re nice guys. If you’re nice, you make friends. Who knew? Previous Springbok teams had a reputation for playing dirty. So it was no surprise that officials did not blow in their favour. Why be biased towards teams that break the rules? The eight front-rowers have never been carded, ever, in their international careers. All the Boks (except maybe Faf) steer clear of starting fights on the field, or giving trouble to the referee. There’s a reason New Zealand always have forgiving ref’s. It’s because they’re nice guys. If the Boks maintain their new demeanour, the ref’s will be forgiving too. Same goes in business. If you’re an ass don’t be surprised if 50/50 decisions don’t go your way.
  4. They got the basics right. In rugby, the basics are the scrum, the line-out, the ruck, the maul, kicking, and catching. Passing and running are a bonus. The Boks didn’t make stupid mistakes. As an entrepreneur, neither should you. Don’t be late. Keep costs down. Focus on sales. Do the basics right.
  5. They understand that off-the-pitch stuff is as important than on-the-pitch stuff. The coach, Rassie, managed the sensitive political pressures of South Africa, appointing the right captain, and picking the most racially representative team ever, without losing South Africa’s installed generational advantage of Afrikaner hardness and understanding of the game. In SA, business is the same. Transformation is an imperative, you have to do it, the trick is to transform AND win. Transformation without victory is failure. Not transforming is always failure.
  6. Their team was bigger than any individual. Rugby is a team sport. Fifteen plodders can beat a team of stars if the plodders play as a team, and the stars play as individuals. In the case of the Boks, they have a team of stars AND they play as a team, for one another. That combination is hard to beat. In business, build trust in your team. Get everyone working for one another, rather than just with one another. The momentum of a cohesive team is unstoppable.
  7. They had a bigger purpose. South Africa is a country with dire political, social and economic challenges, specifically along racial lines. Sport is the one thing that transcends race. The Boks understood this, and realised that their achievements present a priceless opportunity to unite South Africans, and give hope that miracles can happen. So they were playing for more than a trophy. They were playing for parents, kids, cousins and millions of South Africans that are looking for hope that the future of SA can be bright. For companies, it’s the same: There must be a bigger purpose than just making a profit. You need a greater purpose that brings your team together, makes them proud to go to work, and motivates them to go the extra mile.

Notwithstanding the above, the Boks got lucky. They only had to play one recognised Tier 1 nation in the knock-out phases (Wales), thanks to Japan upsetting Scotland & Ireland.

Also, Wales upset Australia in the group stages, meaning the Aussies ended in the other side of the knock-outs. If the Boks had had to play Ireland and Australia and New Zealand, it’s unlikely they’d have made the final.

Also, the Boks are lucky England beat the All Blacks in the semi’s. Given a choice, the Springboks would rather play England than go up against the mighty AB’s.

That’s three lucky breaks. The Boks grabbed their luck, and rode it to their 3rd World Cup trophy.

Every entrepreneur needs luck. When you get a lucky break, take a moment to appreciate it. And then make the most of it.