Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blogathon: Seven Steps To World Domination

Still plugging away. Still awake. Time for a massive thanks to everyone who has helped out and everyone who has donated.

If you've not, and you can, please do.

This topic was suggested by one of my oldest friends, Darren Gillies, who has been following the blogathon from his new home in New Zealand. (@Gingerbeardyman)

23rd October 2011.

New Zealand finally got their hands back on the Rugby World Cup trophy.

After 24 years of hurt, William Webb Ellis was still gleaming.

A small, proud country had achieved the success they craved in their national sport.

Which country, I wonder, could learn a lesson from that tale of sporting endeavour?

Why? It's us in Scotland.

So Kiwi rugby and Scottish fitba'. What can we learn.

First up, I'll get this one out of the way, you can stop moaning about bringing in players who weren't born in Scotland.

The old All Blacks have being doing that for years, the South Sea Islands are their hunting ground.

Lesson one: don't be proud about birth certificates. Winning is everything.

Next. The coach.

Graham Henry wasn't a rip roaring success with the British and Irish Lions and left his job with Wales after they got stuffed by Ireland.

New Zealand appointed him in 2004. They stuck with him through 2007's unsuccessful World Cup campaign and they stood by him in the face of media criticism.

Lesson two: persevere with a coach, stability allows you to build towards your ultimate goal.

The Haka.

It would be hard for the Scottish football team to introduce a ceremonial war dance at this stage in their history. Fifa would probably frown on it.

But we can take certain steps. The whole team singing Flower of Scotland with gusto. The version sung at internationals is maybe about 50 or 60 words? Learn them and look like you want to sing them.

Also Amy Macdonald will need to be ditched. Her caterwauling doesn't really say "We are Scotland and we will own you" as much as it says "we're Scotland and we'll screech you to death if you're very unlucky."

Lesson three: Intimidate to dominate. Win the first battle before the whistle blows.

Rugby is a way of life.

As a nation we've got learn to eat, breathe and sleep football.

We've got to be ragingly depressed when we lose and enthusiastically high when we prosper.

We've got to start to care again. Each and everyone of us.

Lesson four: we are football. Football is us.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

New Zealand's main sport is rugby union. But their population is paltry compared to their main rivals.

They don't use that as an excuse. They use it as a motivation, a spur to ensure that they remain ahead of their bigger rivals.

Lesson five: Small is beautiful.

Believe that children are the future.

Teach them well.

I go to watch rugby in Scotland I see international players who drop the ball more than your granny drops a stitch in her knitting.

I got to watch football in Scotland and I see players who have little command of the basics. They are footballing illiterates.

We can't let that continue.

Watch a bounce game of touch rugby in New Zealand. You'll be amazed at both the ferocity and the technical ability on show.

They learn that young, it becomes second nature.

Lesson six: Look after the kids, secure the future.

The dark arts.

New Zealand are the most romanticised rugby team in the world.

They're also one of the most adept at playing on the edge. That includes targeting opposition players in a way that is unacceptable.

But it also includes playing on the margins, grabbing an extra inch that might make difference. And if you have to do that behind the referee's back then so be it.

Someone does that to us at football and we revert back to colonial officers droning own about a "bally well British sense of fair play."

Lesson seven: Cheats don't always prosper, but they sometimes gain a crucial advantage.

So there it is.

Seven steps to an All Black style domination of our chosen sport.

There are differences. Not least the size of the pool of rugby playing nations.

But there are some serious lessons to learn. The coaching of children is one.

And rediscovering the simple love of the game is another.

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