How Rugby Skills Can Improve Your Business Pitch

How team work, resilience, communication and respect are ingredients in building a better business.

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How team work, resilience, communication and respect are ingredients in building a better business.


How Rugby Skills Can Improve Your Business Pitch

How team work, resilience, communication and respect are ingredients in building a better business.

Share this article

I’m sure you’ve seen far too many comparisons between business and sport, with goals and opponents used to symbolise the competitive, target driven nature of business, and with obvious references to the importance of team work.

With so many clichés, is it actually possible to learn something about improving your business pitch?

Team work

Jason Leonard, the former England Rugby Captain, says, “Everything in a scrummage is ultimately team work because you are turning round and saying to your mate, I am with you, I won’t let you down. I can look someone in the eye and say I am right beside you, that is what a scrum is all about.”

The point about team work is that it’s not a choice. Business is simply not a solo sport. No matter what you do, you have to rely on others. The more you let yourself trust, the more support you get, and the more you achieve. Whilst you still have to keep your eyes open for people who are only out for themselves, they’re easy to spot.


A business pitch is a means of communication, you already know that. But what does communication have to do with rugby?

You can probably imagine a rugby team, before a game, communicating with each other about their strategy, tactics, fears, doubts and so on. Yet much subtler and potentially more important is the communication that goes on during a game.

The way that a strong team of players can communicate their intentions to each other with just a glance can give them a tangible edge over their opponents, and they know that, in order to be first across the line, they don’t have to be yards ahead, they only have to be one step ahead. A tiny lead, communicated throughout the game, makes a huge difference.


Communication between team players wins games


In a game of rugby, the whole direction of the game can change in an instant, and you have to be ready to take advantage of that. In life, people think they’re stuck with their problems, when in fact, you can change anything you want as quickly as you want.

Sammy is one of the young men who turned his life around through his experience of rugby. He said, “It’s more than what you think it is, it’s not just rugby, it’s life, you can change whatever you want to do in your life and the amazing thing is how quickly you can change, it just like that, with a click of the finger. If you stay positive and stay strong, the future is bright”.


Mark Prince, a former light heavyweight boxing champion tragically lost his son to knife crime and became a campaigner for knife safety.

He says, “Life can bang you up. What are you going to do? Are you going to throw in the towel? Are you going cut your wrists? Are you going to drink yourself into a stupor? You need to remember that you’re still living, you’ve still got life, if I can do it then anybody can”.

It’s so easy, when we’re faced with what seem like insurmountable problems, to want to throw in the towel. We walk out on a relationship rather than working at it, or we leave a job rather than focusing on our goals.

We even throw things away rather than repair them, and what seems like an easy option now is never easy in the long run, because you’re not tackling the underlying reasons for your problems.

People who have faced dramatic challenges in life learn to get up, shake themselves off and carry on.


It's important to fight through the bad times


In a game of rugby, it often looks like the players on opposing sides are out for blood. Some of the tackles seem surprisingly rough, and of course players can suffer serious physical injuries from the game.

This might make it look like the players have no respect for their opponents, yet the opposite is true. If players lack respect for their opposite numbers, they will fall into the trap of underestimating them, which gives their opponents a clear advantage.

Always assume that your opponents are better than you, and that playing them will give you an opportunity to improve.

We can’t learn anything from playing within our comfort zone, and of course I’m not just talking about rugby, I’m talking about any competitive situation in life. When you respect your opponents, you are respecting yourself.

How can these skills help you to succeed with your business pitch? The reality is that building a business is a competitive process, and it’s something you can’t do alone. There are always more people willing and able to help you than you think possible, and if you open yourself up to that idea then new opportunities will present themselves to you.

Ultimately, what all of these skills can help you to understand is that, on the rugby pitch, your competitor is not the player in the other team, and in your business, your competitor is not the other company.

Your competitor is yourself. Master that, and there’s no stopping you.

Paul Boross is “The Pitch Doctor”, an internationally recognised authority on communications, presentation and performance.

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How Rugby Skills Can Improve Your Business Pitch

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