rugby365.com columnist Tom Dawson-Squibb is a dreamer. But he's not the only one... Are 'dream teams' just that, dreams, or can they exist at rugby's highest level?
Every time I spend time with a team, or with a player I ask them the question, "What do you really want and what are your dreams?" So now it's time to turn the tables, what do I really want from a team in South African rugby, what would be the 'perfect' team in my opinion? Well here goes.
I have a dream that there will be a team that lives and dies by the fact that they will play for each other and genuinely care about each other's well-being and where strong relationships are valued as highly as a great tackle technique or bench-press ability. A team that has players that believe in what that particular union stands for and represents it as ambassadors. A team that puts more emphasis on teamwork than individual prestige and where individuals will make sacrifices for the sake of the team being successful.
I have a dream that there will be a team where coaches, administrators and players are all on the same page, support each other and buy into the same vision. Where these parts of the system trust each other implicitly and seek to help each other perform better in their respective departments. These three components will challenge each other and push each other but always look after the interests of the union, club or country and use language that is positive and encouraging in public.
I have a dream that there will be a team that does all it can to boost players' confidence and allows them to play freely unencumbered by pressure as much as possible and in a positive manner. They will be able to play a risky or conservative brand of rugby, but they will back themselves at all times to be able to pull anything off. Where, instead of putting guys down, and 'treating them mean to keep them keen', players are backed boosted and encouraged to express themselves but are professional in their approach to training so as to keep their own standards up.
I have a dream that a team will set standards that they guard with their lives. These standards are based on values and on a responsibility as players. Where when they let themselves slip they punish themselves (and coaches allow for this) and train extra hard to put right the wrongs. Where motivation is an internal factor and never becomes a problem because the team is so intent on not letting each other down that they push each other to optimum levels all the time.
I have a dream that there will be a team that puts a high price on enjoyment and this comes across to their supporters. A team where the coaches and players can have a laugh together yet have mutual respect for each other. A team that plays with smiles on their faces when necessary but has a steely determination.
I have a dream of a team that is inspirationally led by a number of leaders but never has a hierarchical nature to it. A team where youngsters and seniors are equally important and younger players coming in are able to perform immediately as they feel so comfortable in the environment around them. Where when a new player comes into the team or squad he is immediately made to feel welcome. Leadership would be seen as exceptionally important and development of leaders would be seen as a priority.
This may well be Utopia but as John Lennon said in his song Imagine, "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one", so I reckon I'm entitled to a bit of dreaming.
I can safely say that such a team, should it exist, would be a winning one and would have fans far and wide. What I can also say though, is that we may not yet have an exact replica within our midst at present. But I remain positive and hope that one day it will indeed become a reality - and trust me ladies and gents - this team will win, and win big!
I'd love to hear about your 'dream team'.
PS. Well done to the Reds - super performance from a side without many 'names' for long periods of the season. Could they be this 'dream' team I am speaking about?
* Tom and Rowan Belchers run a company called Head Start Sport which focuses on the mental side of sport. They have worked with the Stormers, WP and UCT - as well as Rondebosch Boys' High School and Paarl Boys' High School.
Visit www.headstartsport.co.za to find out more, or follow them on Twitter; @thesportingmind
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