I have been on record many times saying the majority of rugby fans are stupid, and this in part helps our underperforming teams a great deal in sustaining a ‘slapgat’ rugby culture.
In writing this article (just the opening paragraph) I had to delete 4 classic rugby or sports clichés, you know, the usual ‘Defeat is not an option’, ‘Playing for the jersey’, ‘Taking every game as it comes’, and so on and so forth.
Why you might ask?
Well, this column deals with an issue most sports teams suffer from, or struggle to maintain or create, a winning rugby culture in which work ethic and general player happiness and enjoyment goes hand-in-hand.
I think over the last two years I have said of just about every South African rugby team (with the exception of the Bulls) that they lack a positive rugby culture. Through discussions on this site of what you all believe the Sharks need to finally mount a successful Super 14 challenge I again read of some of the problem areas most of you identify of which a ‘happy team environment’ or rugby culture (or lack of it) ranks very highly in most debates.
I am not so sure we all know exactly what it means though.
I mentioned at the start of this column that fans to a large extent aid underperforming teams not to develop such a mindset or environment or culture.
Well it is best answered with another cliché…
“Once a Shark, always a Shark”, or “Shark till I die”, or… I can go on but I am getting sick of clichés.
What exactly is a culture? Well one explanation or definition the dictionary gives us is that it is the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.
Most of us believe however that this culture is created and maintained by the team, or a team of whom we are only fans or supporters.
You are part of that culture.
And you pass that culture down to the next generation (of fans) who will continue in pretty much the same vein you did unless we take ownership and responsibility of that culture. Honestly, how can something that affects you so directly not be something you have some form of control over?
We constantly hear these days of professional rugby players who gets caught using recreational drugs or abusing alcohol or hitting women or whatever bull you care to read in tabloids, and we simply write it off as those guys being ‘simply human’ and that we do not understand the pressures of being a professional sportsmen or women…
What utter kak.
These teams and players survive because they created an environment for you to become part of their tribe, their culture, for you to take as much responsibility for the actions of your other tribe members as they do for you on the field every single weekend.
I have said to some players I coached before that if I can only have 20% of the passion of the guys sitting in the stands Saturday after Saturday supporting them, I will never lose a match.
Too often do we accept excuses of mediocrity from our fellow tribe members or leaders and simply write it off as one of those things, that we not only help create this environment of mediocrity or were losing is an option, we support it.
The culture at a team like the Bulls or Crusaders does not guarantee them winning every game, but it also does not allow them to lose the same way twice.
Defeat in any sport is inevitable, but it is never acceptable.
The Sharks, much like the Stormers, Cheetahs and Lions need to create and environment or culture which is healthy, and happy, but not at the expense of hard work and work ethic which to my mind is the biggest thing they lack.
Where they go wrong from where I sit, is that they are not prepared to work hard where it matters most, to want it more when the opportunity comes around. You can fool most of the people most of the time by making them believe you are enthusiastic, hardworking and competitive, but desire for success goes a lot further than what you are prepared to do on a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon in front of the crowds and television cameras.
Real desire, real competitiveness has a lot more to do with the work ethic and sacrifices you are willing to make from Sunday to Thursday when no-one else is watching. You know you have a winning rugby team when your players are happy with a culture of working hard, training hard and playing hard – where losing is never an option.
Just looking at the players available for the Sharks this Super 14 I see no reason why they cannot go all the way, where for the fans, a semi-final is an absolute must!
The Sharks (and most other SA teams) should learn that a culture of being happy is either a team going out there to enjoy themselves and entertain the crowd, or a team that goes out there to win – guess which team (and its supporters) in the end will be the happiest…
You will get beaten, accept that, but do not accept getting beaten the same way twice.Tweet