I am a proud Australian. I am a very proud New South Welshman. That is what makes this blog so difficult for me to write. Today I am writing about the two best sporting teams that I have ever seen and highlight what makes them great. These teams are the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union team and the Queensland Maroons rugby league team.

I will never support either of these teams. To be honest, I celebrate long and loud when they lose. I haven’t celebrated too many times recently. I love to hate both sides and they stir a level of emotion in me that rarely comes to the surface. I think I dislike both sides so much because they are both so good; too good in fact.
Both the All Blacks and the Maroons have dominated for over a decade and they will probably continue this period of dominance well into the next decade. Let’s explore what makes both of these teams so dominant:

  • Coaching and development systems: The New Zealand school and provincial rugby union systems are probably the envy of all sporting development systems throughout the world. The players are coached in a certain manner with a very clear goal and style in mind. The Maroons also develop their players early. They were the first side to implement an “emerging” programme for young and inexperienced players and they are exposed to Origin programmes and expectations very early.
  • Adherence to standards and behaviours: At Optimum Consulting, we refer to this as an execution of a drumbeat. All participants in the All Blacks and Maroons system know what is expected and understand the ramifications of not meeting these standards. These standards directly correlate to culture and they are not negotiable. When All Blacks star Aaron Smith was caught in a “toilet tryst” with a young lady last year, he was immediately stood down in a move that was supported by the team. At the time, he was arguably the most valuable rugby player in the world. Last year in the pre Origin camp, eight potential Maroons players were banned for the year for breaking curfew and covering it up. Players like Dylan Napa and Valentine Holmes probably would have been picked but were required to sit out the year for their participation in the event.
  • On field leadership: The captains of both sides sit proudly upon the summit when it comes to leadership abilities. Past All Blacks captain, Richie McCaw was such a significant figure on the field that it was often said he was worth two players. Players followed him and his direction was clear and easily followed. This tradition has been passed down the line to present captain Kieran Read who leads in a very similar manner to McCaw. When it comes to the Maroons, they have the best captain I have ever seen in Cameron Smith. Not only is he a champion player, he is the chief strategist, tactician and the calmest head I have ever witnessed on a football field. He is also the best referee I have ever seen because he basically referees every game he plays. He is a classy man who presents with dignity and his leadership is without peer. Both the All Blacks and Maroons invest in developing leadership teams and future leaders so when figures like McCaw and Smith retire, the transition will be as smooth as humanly possible.
  • Brand strength: People say that every New Zealander grows up wanting to represent the All Blacks. The support they get is unbelievable. The black uniform stands for strength and integrity and is a symbol that all Kiwis respect and admire. There is a certain cult like feeling about the All Blacks and it perpetuates through the generations. The Maroons have a similar strength of brand. The state of Queensland basically stops to a standstill on State of Origin night as people either head to the game or a television set to blindly and loyally support their Mighty Maroons. They galvanise the state behind them and people celebrate their wins and feel low when they lose.
  • Belief: Above all, both sides believe in themselves and the people they surround themselves with. They believe in their systems that have got them to where they are. They believe in their coaches and their game plans. They believe in their values. They believe in their team mates and believe that they will all do what is required of them. They believe in their on-field leadership, knowing that they will make the correct decisions under pressure. They believe in their own abilities and believe that they have earned their opportunities. They believe in their jumpers and the state and country they represent. They believe that they will win.

As I said earlier, I do not support either the All Blacks or the Maroons; to be honest, I actually despise both teams. However, that does not mean that I do not admire them greatly for what they have achieved and will continue to achieve. I just hope that Parramatta (NRL), The Waratahs (Rugby Union), the NSW Blues (State of Origin), Liverpool (EPL) and the Wallabies (Rugby Union) can emulate them one day.

Brad McMahon – Managing Director

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