After giving a talk to the England Rugby 7’s team I’ve just re-watched (for the umpteenth time) Living with Lions, possibly the greatest sports movie ever. It’s a spine-tingling insight into what happens when talent and will combine. Sadly lacking in talent, I’ve always been gripped by the sight of truly gifted individuals achieving their full potential. To do so as a team, sharing the memories for life, is even sweeter.
“The easy bit has passed,” growls Jim Telfer to the forwards in a meeting heavy with the menace of controlled aggression.
“Selection for the Test Team is the easy bit. This is your f***ing Everest boys. To win for The Lions in a Test Match is the ultimate.
They don’t rate you. They don’t respect you. The only way to be rated is to stick one on them.
They are better than you’ve played against so far. They are better individually. So it’s an awesome task you have.
They don’t think f*** all of us. We’re here just to make up the f***ing numbers.
You have to find to find your own solace – your own drive, your own ambition, your own inner strength; for the greatest game of your f***ing life.
Rather quieter and more cerebral, Ian McGeechan constantly encourages the men to look back on what has put them where they are, to remember that their success is not just about them. The importance of the team, and of not letting down your team, is critical. They have all earned the right to be there; the step-up to greatness comes if you can then make the most of your moment.
You’ll meet each other in the street in thirty years time and there’ll just be a look. And you’ll know just how special some days in your life are.
Even if you have no interest in rugby you would do well to watch some of the speeches in the pre-game build ups. Stirring stuff!