Running parallels: reading between the lines of the performance of the Wallabies

In the world of sports, few events capture the hearts and minds of fans quite like the Rugby World Cup. With its exhilarating displays of skill, teamwork and unwavering determination, this tournament has become a global spectacle, drawing millions to witness the fierce competition on the field. But beyond the thrilling matches and triumphant victories lies a wealth of invaluable lessons that extend far beyond the realm of sports – lessons that businesses can embrace to achieve success in their own endeavours. Homing in on the performance of the Wallabies can give us invaluable lessons we can extract and implement into everyday business.

Despite Australia taking the win against Portugal, there has been talk of the form of the Wallabies. Never have the Wallabies found themselves out of the World Cup in the pool stage, so what has gone wrong? The team’s discipline has been brought into question which naturally puts some question onto the head coach too, but there have been suggestions it runs deeper than this. It is often when things go wrong, that systems then get put under the microscope, but on this occasion is it in fact fair to be looking deeper into what has gone so wrong? In the Super Rugby Pacific, Australia field five teams, and despite three of these five reaching the quarterfinals there was only one team that looked like they were a significant threat in the finals. This begs the question whether they are branching out too much and need to change the approach; do they focus too much on quantity rather than quality? Undoubtedly, the quality vs quantity argument is valuable in many aspects of life, including business.

Leading on from this, in the past Eddie Jones has suggested that it has become too easy for players to make it to a professional level, questioning whether the system is no longer fit for purpose. By questioning the talent within Australian rugby, it does naturally lead us to query the junior pathways. Both private and public schools in Australia play a huge part in grassroots rugby. Public schools have an excellent track record of producing talent, however when government funding lacks, often it is the sport programmes like rugby, that can take the biggest hit. If Australian rugby does not invest in public schools, will talent continue to be lost to other better funded sports? Australian Rugby is an excellent example of the need to invest and develop young talent, or else the results will continue to be a disappointment compared to their previous track record performances. But are we in the same predicament in the world of business here in the UK? Talent is out there, and it comes in many forms – but are tapping into them all effectively? In the world of business, developing existing talent is one of the most crucial investments a business can make. Investing through training, development, hiring, and empowerment is the cornerstone to the success of businesses.

Sport and business have many parallels and there is an abundance of lessons than can be learned from analysing the world of sports. By analysing the performance of the Wallabies, it illustrates the critical importance of investing in talent and development, echoing Neil Barringham’s famous quote: “the grass is greener where you water it”. It highlights that the allocation of time, energy and financial resources is where success truly blossoms. With just little over three weeks remaining of the Rugby World Cup, how many additional lessons can be learned from it that could be applied to the realm of business?

Written by Izzy McHattie, EP Business in Hospitality

The Wallabies’ worst-ever World Cup performance was caused by years of grassroots neglect by Rugby Australia. (2023). ABC News. [online] 25th of September. Available at: Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup humiliation must spark a reset in Australian rugby or more heartache will follow – ABC News [Accessed on 2nd of October, 2023].