Published three years before the All Blacks won their second Rugby Union World Cup Final this is a fascinating book about the culture of a great team. The lessons are applicable to every team whether they be in sport or business.
It starts when things were not going so well for New Zealand, in 2004 they had just been beaten by South Africa and finished last in the annual Tri-Nations tournament. Too many players drank too much and there was a malaise and attitude that wasn’t good enough for a team with a great history to flourish in the new professional era. Graham Henry had just been appointed coach and on the long flight home across the Pacific his assistant Wayne Smith wrote him a note saying, “we must fix this thing”.
On the pitch the changes and improvements were obvious. Away from the performances, fundamental changes were taking place. Rooted in the culture (that word again) of the All Blacks are certain qualities and beliefs that needed to be re-discovered, recognised, acknowledged and developed. The author describes the dressing room after the All Blacks have beaten Wales in Dunedin in June 2010. When the hero worshippers, the journalists, the coaches have left, the team toasts their captain Richie McCaw and they in their turn leave the room. Except for two senior players who pick up brushes and sweep the floor. The purpose of this exercise is to prove that the All Blacks tidy up after themselves, that they have personal and collective discipline.
- Sweeping the sheds.
- Doing it properly.
- So no one else has to.
- Because no one looks after the All Blacks.
- The All Blacks look after themselves.
The chapter names include:
- Sacrifice and
This book is crammed with great lessons. In my opinion it is unique in its breadth and depth with examples that will provoke you to make changes for the better in your life and organisation.
- “For the Strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”
- “No Dickheads”
- “Champions do Extra”
The All Black ethos is summed up in one action by their centre three quarter and outstanding sportsman (a champion at rugby league and boxing) Sonny Bill Williams at the end of the World Cup final at Twickenham last year. A 14 year old fan was tackled by security staff when he ran on to the field (I can identify with his action and enthusiasm, I used to do the same at the same age at Cardiff Arms Park, to get close to my heroes), Sonny Bill seeing what happened went and protected the youngster and then gave his winners medal to the lad.