The British and Irish Lions tour just keeps on giving. So many interesting topics that keep popping up to chat about and the latest is around putting a team together quickly. Gelling.
Is it really that difficult? For me, the individual players on the team matter less than how they interact.
The Lions have had plenty of time to get it all right and it’s obviously something that the team has always had to nail right throughout its history. I actually think it should add to their performance, not be a shortcoming.
I saw it with both Fiji and Team GB at the Rio Olympics. The Team GB side made quite a lot about the effect of putting together their side in a short time frame but the facts don’t align with that. Five of their seven starters in the final had played together regularly for a few years, part of the most experienced England side ever, and they had also played in the European series as a group allowing them to gel. Add some outstanding Scottish and Welsh players that significantly improved the quality in the squad and then the magic ingredient, the Team GB effect. I saw it with them all in the Olympic village. Being part of something bigger than just their own nation and with the other Team GB athletes from all the other sports. They had synergy. As the medals poured into the Team GB campaign, I doubt any individual or team wanted to return to their accommodation after their competition empty-handed. I have no doubt the rugby sevens team’s narrow wins all the way to the final was built on that, and that’s why I’m adamant the Lions can also add huge value from being part of the amazing history of the team.
In contrast to Team GB, across the half-way line, the Fijian sevens team had never played as that group prior to the Rio Olympics. We had no new caps, but that starting side, in the first three games we played, had never been on the field together before. We never ever felt that this was going to work against us and the bond and belief was tighter than I had ever had before.
Over the next few blogs, I’ll break this all down and go into a bit more detail into where you really need to get things right.