The (non-existent) formula to success

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 2 Feb 2010 at 14:40
Tagged with :

There is no one formula for success when it comes to building winning structures and cultures in rugby, but there certainly are some guidelines which are important.

When Rob asked me to write something from my experience on how to build a winning and sustainable culture within rugby I thought it would be very simple. But on reflection of personal experiences and having seen what happens in various clubs and unions I became aware that there really isn’t one all powerful formula or answer to that question.

Situations change, people change and with that comes fundamental differences from one union or club to the next.

I think most of us who have worked in more than one successful environment professionally will also realise that the formula for the one, is not necessarily the formula the next company should follow.

What I can tell you however is that certain aspects or challenges and issues do not change, and that simple proper planning and management will sort most issues out when trying to build a winning culture or brand.

Fact is, everyone from your marketing, PR, sales, operational and management levels would firstly need to be on the same page, and work towards the same goals – and most importantly, have a plan. Not just any plan, but a plan with definite and defined goals, a realistic timeframe and a logical, and chronological approach and application.

I think it is best summed up in a quote I heard recently;

“To become the best you do not go out and change or improve three or four things by 100%, rather take 50 different things and improve them by 1%”.

I think in professional rugby it is easy to lose scope on what seems to be menial or small issues that affect the business, and concentrate on what is perceived to be huge challenges or weaknesses or problem areas.

As an example, the Sharks lost Frans Steyn last year, and the publicity that this got was astounding! Similar to what is currently happening to Johann Muller apparently on his way out or the apparent lack or crisis at flyhalf.

Hell people these are two or three things in a situation or environment where you have hundreds of variables that influence an outcome to a problem or challenge!

Sure some things hit you harder than others, but as soon as you lose scope of the simple mechanisms or cogs that keep the wheels turning it would not matter if you have TSW mags on that wheel or not, it will not turn!

I suppose the simplest way to explain this is that from my personal experience and viewpoint is that the simplest, and most effective way a union can ensure a winning brand and culture, is to ensure the basics are covered, and done correctly – everything else will fall into place in its own time.

But you will need people to trust the structure, to understand it and to be managed effectively to contribute their part, however small, to keep all the cogs and gears well oiled and well maintained.

Practically applied or compared to the Sharks setup I cannot see why this is not done.

The Sharks, although not having the age-group strengths of unions like Western Province, have one of the best managed and maintained academies in South Africa.

Their age-group player from 19 up are always competitive.

The senior sides have always performed since their inclusion in the Currie Cup in 1990.

The union is arguably the best marketed union and brand in South Africa, and probably the world.

What strikes me about the Sharks however is that although individually they have everything right, it is in getting them on the same page or managed as a union or in union where they fail.

Individually every person that manages each level seems to be well capable and well competent, the results individually shows this, but what lacks is that one key person to put this all together, and get them to work towards a common goal.

Most of you are closer to the team than what I am, so I would think that some might agree or not agree.

But then as stated, there is no ‘one’ formula for success, but at the moment it certainly looks like the Sharks are trying to improve one or two things only by 50 to 100% (like player recruitment) and neglecting the 100 other things which would have never had them in the situation in the first place.


  • Hmmmmmm like Morne se anties se boude. 😎

    No reason to be negative, just bring the young guns through Vodacom. Pretty sure the Tjark machine will be oiled once it hot up.

  • Comment 1, posted at 02.02.10 14:55:17 by PaarlBok Reply
  • @PaarlBok (Comment 1) : it would help if we had a Varsity Cup team… I feel an article coming on

  • Comment 2, posted at 02.02.10 15:14:46 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Ja sure, like Morne Qouted you dont have the same schoolboy base like we have in the western cape. The Tin Ears have Grey and with the academies now in Stellenbosch and Osfontein we sort of keep our young talents now, same with the Tin Ears. So structurewise it will be a problem added to the Varsity Cup.

  • Comment 3, posted at 02.02.10 16:10:16 by PaarlBok Reply


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