Overcoming your demons?

It is with a touch of sadness that I write this last blog of the 2011 6 nations tournament.  While the standard of rugby was not always outstanding, it entertained throughout and was never predictable.  Most importantly, super Saturday was billed as having the potential for upsets and it certainly didn’t disappoint…

Coming into this weekend the Scots were frustrated, the French devastated and the Irish duped.  From this perspective all three teams were not expected to win although for different reasons.  Scotland were felt to lack a clinical finish, France were considered too volatile after the shock defeat to Italy and Ireland were up against an England team on a Grand Slam crusade before the Rugby World Cup.  All had demons to overcome and this made for another fascinating weekend of Rugby.

The French clearly felt they had much to prove to their fans, their manager and themselves.  While Marc Lievremont was not exactly reticent in his criticism of the side’s performance in Italy, this may actually have goaded the team onto greater efforts.  The demon took the form of being the underdog again and it was clearly slayed before a disappointed Welsh side who had started the day with an outside shot at the 6 nations crown.

Many felt that Wales were fortunate to defeat Ireland after the now infamous ‘ball-swapping’ incident which led to the match-winning try.  Former captain Keith Wood felt that while the incident was unfortunate, Ireland had lacked positivity throughout the tournament and needed to kill off that demon rather than that of an unfair officiating decision.  Regardless of the nature of this demon, the Irish responded with an incredible first half display that left England blinking into the headlights like a stunned bunny. 

For the Scots, the demon took the form of a fifty metre white line that seemed to have an invisible forcefield around it at Murrayfield!  How much that forcefield was created by the media and the fans is debatable but it certainly seemed to be holding strong in the first half.  In reinforcing this idea of an invisible forcefield, a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts was created for the team.  If you keep telling a team that they can’t cross the line and they keep failing to cross it, it stands to reason that they start believing the prophecy!

This 6 nations has been about so much more than just the game of Rugby to me.  It has thrown up different psychological aspects in each and every game that we can all relate to.  We all have demons to slay sometimes so perhaps we can learn from the examples set in Rugby.  It’s looking very very good for the Rugby World Cup!

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