It’s great to see England playing pretty well and being up there, in the chasing pack behind New Zealand and Ireland. It’s contended that in order to win a World Cup you need at least 5 players who are world class. Billy Vunipola (a notable absentee this season) is one and Manu Tuilagi looks to be coming back to his best. Kyle Sinckler may reach the giddy heights. Owen Farrell makes a significant difference every time he comes onto the pitch, and has managed to escape sanction for some dodgy tackles. But Maro Itoje hasn’t. I used to wait for Dan Cole to gift the opposition random penalties that would relieve our pressure. This role has been taken over by Mr Itoje. If it’s not killing the ball it’s charging thorough offside. The top two teams have one defining statistic (as well as some characteristics) – they don’t give away many penalties. For England to beat them they will have to address this. Some penalties are inevitable – England extracted more than the average from the All Blacks two weeks ago – but needless ones can be cut out. Ireland achieved this last week and this was a significant contribution to their victory.
Success, as I wrote in WealthBeing, is about knowing how to win, but not trying to win “at all costs”. Why? Because it doesn’t serve you and it usually doesn’t work. I suspect that were I to meet Maro and discuss this he would say that he is playing on the edge and so mistakes are bound to occur. My response (gulp) would be ‘stay on the edge, don’t go over’. Keeping calm, even when under pressure, and accepting defeat, such as losing possession in his case, a sales opportunity in business, is better than ceding possession or damaging relationships and your self-respect by failing to accept that no means no. This doesn’t mean losing your passion or enthusiasm but recognise that it is only part of your makeup and observing it and harnessing it is better than letting it run wild.
I wonder if Will Carling, mentor to the England team, will make this point? Success needs a balance of emotions and clear thinking.