Leadership Lessons 101: What we can we learn from Australia’s thrashing of England at #RWC2015

Here we are – on the eve of the next group match between Wales and we are looking good, but my focus is not that much on the future but on the past.

It all started with this tweet:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.02.42 pm

An then I got a reaction – which of course I was after ! You see, I love my country and every time it plays in International Sports I take a keen interest, especially when it is up against the Mother Country. I also happen to have a large and fun PLN in the UK so I like to interact with them on sporting matters – it breaks up the monotony of L&D 😉

They took our Ashes away this year and they thoroughly deserved it – they played superbly – but with this Rugby World Cup being held in the UK, I noticed a little cockiness creeping in the British media.  I would receive RTs from my Uk friends and the flavour was very much the same – one word – Arrogance.

Here is a sample:

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.10.11 pm


In fact every Rugby journalist who writes for The Guardian tipped an England win over Australia – not one of them gave us a chance. This in a two horse race and with Australia thrashing Uruguay in their earlier match.

In the same vein as my dear friend Donald H Taylor wrote a great piece on the Ashes loss :3 L&D lessons from Australia’s cricketing collapse, I decided to replicate his approach and talk about the leadership lessons we can take from England’s thrashing at the hands of the Aussies.

Lesson 1: Leaders cant afford to be arrogant

The English media, supporters and dare I say it players and staff became too arrogant in the lead up to the game – or that is the way I perceived it here. They ridiculed our forward pack and said that it was a weakness in our structure.

Arrogance is not a great trait in leaders and one that leaders need to shun and remove if they are going to bring people along for the journey. Humble and down to earth is what makes a great leader stand out and then this in turn is reflected in those around them.

Lesson 2: Don’t worry about outsiders (read The Guardian Journalists)  just do your job !

In the now famous words of Bill Belichick from New England Patriots (big cheerio to my mate Andrew Jacobs)  – “Do your Job” – is the attitude that the Aussie took into the game. Whilst England were busy reading their “glories” in the The Guardian, Australia’s most maligned forward pack was busy plotting their downfall.

“There’s so much thrown at you – media and social media – but the team has done really well in not getting distracted.” Cheika

No talk in this quarter, then, about the old Ashes rivalry, and how much Australia must be relishing the opportunity to knock England out of their own tournament. “That’s not my domain,” Cheika said. “I’m not the tournament organiser, I’m not involved with England, I’m just a simple old coach of the Australian team.”


Leaders need to focus on the job at hand and not the noise outside. The noise will be there and the critics are in every corner, but as a leader you need to maintain your composure, continue to plan and strategise and you will eventually reap the results.

Lesson 3: Be Humble in Victory

Michael Cheika was humble in victory. With such a dominating score you could expect some arrogance – and rightly so (Lancaster would have been dancing from the rooftops) but no, he was humble, accepted that it was a great win for the Aussies and was focused on the next game with Wales.

Leaders need to stay on their course and continue on their path and when proven right need to be humble. Leadership is about being compassionate, empathetic and humble – not dominating, arrogant and heartless. Cheika symbolises this in abundance and thus his team continues to deliver for him.

Along the way England also made some history:

  1. The first hosts of a World Cup to crash out of the tournament at the group stage
  2. The first former winners to do so

So I say bring on Wales- lets hope its a great game but here are some stats of Australia V Wales at Twickenham, that although are favourable to the Aussies, I do worry :


As I write this I hear that Lancaster is on the verge of been removed from his position. Let’s hope he hangs on as I am sure he has learnt a lot about himself and his leadership style.

Go Aussies!


2 thoughts on “Leadership Lessons 101: What we can we learn from Australia’s thrashing of England at #RWC2015

  1. Hi Con, an even-handed piece, and the lessons you draw from it are spot on. You’re right to point to the arrogance of the English approach before the game and even after it, where there a great deal of focus on Lancaster and selection, but precious little acknowledgement that the Wallabies simply outplayed England.

    There’s one thing I note in your blog, though, and I think it reflects this issue of English arrogance.

    You mix the terms Britain, the UK and England as if they were synonymous. They are not, and very definitely not when it comes to rugby. Not only do the English rugby team not represent Britain, they don’t even really represent all of England. Rugby union is the sport of a few in England, whereas in Wales (for example) it is a national passion.

    This disconnection with reality feeds the arrogance that lead to their humbling in this competition. Let us hope that they learn some of your lessons and play a better game next time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your response Don and I appreciate you taking the time to clear things up.

      One question I do have though is that when Andy Murray plays tennis he is referred to as a Scot by the commentators but represents GB. Is this a case of sport by sport differs in how it acknowledges the country? I do also note that a lot of English take pride in Andy Murray doing well. Is it because more English follow Tennis than they follow Rugby ?

      My point was that whether it is UK or GB, there was a lot of arrogance expressed across the board.


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