This past weekend, unbeknownst to many here in the United States, the Wallabies (Australia) defeated the Springboks (South Africa) and advanced to play the All-Blacks (New Zealand) in the second semi-final of the Rugby World Cup. Over the past year, these three teams have been the most dominate in World Rugby.
So the stage is set for another classic rugby battle between my Wallabies and the All Blacks. A match already sold out and being played in New Zealand at Eden Park. A field Australia has not seen success in 25 years. I’ll make no bets. I’ve lost far too many over the years. But I’m Australian and I therefore believe in the Wallabies.
I’ve read a number of recaps of the match, but one posted in the Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/rugby-world-cup/the-bottom-line-is-theyre-the-ultimate-overachievers-20111009-1lfxo.html) struck me as significant. It asks simply “How did the Wallabies do it?”
“How did they make the World Cup semi-finals when they really had only one chance to score in last night’s epic and memorable encounter?”
It’s difficult to describe the pressure associated with being a Wallaby or their coach. I coach for a college and represent my institution in competition. Some colleges have the weight of representing a State. Only two volleyball coaches here in the United States represent their country in competition. But even those coaches, don’t have the weight of an entire nation on their shoulders when they go and compete. When the pressure mounts there are moments where you question what you’re doing as a coach? Have I done anything to help my athletes? Am I making an impact on my program? When it seems like the path is hard and the challenges many, what do we do? How do we respond?
“How? Simple. Through sheer determination, courage, incredible will power and enormous belief. Australian rugby has a history, a reputation for getting so much out of so little, using every little bit of its limited resources to repeatedly overcome those who are overflowing in riches… It’s that Wallabies spirit that keeps them being such a fascinating beast, the ultimate over-achievers.”
We can spend our time looking sideways – comparing our program to other programs. We can complain about our lack of resources, our budget, our feeder schools or our administration etc. Or we can become over-achievers. We can embrace the traits of the Wallabies – determination, courage, will power and a belief. There’s no guarantee if we do, we’ll beat our version of the Springboks or the All Blacks. But I’d like my chances.