British rugby legend and former British and Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan addressed an audience of professionals on his experiences as a leading figure in the sport at London’s Ivy Club in Covent Garden.
Sir Ian shared his insights into what it takes to recruit a team of champions who deliver outstanding performance on and off the field.
He stressed that making the lions a success means finding the best people for the entire endeavour; both the players themselves and the support staff who create the atmosphere that allows the team to thrive.
Collaboration among coaches delivers the strongest team
“The process for selecting the players is extremely thorough,” Sir Ian explained.
“The coaches will be reviewing the performance of 60 or 70 players throughout the Six Nations tournament and discussing their possible selections with each of the home nations coaches as well.”
The process will mean considering how team members will collaborate with one another and studying the teams who will be their opponents to match their skills to the challenges they will have to face.
Exceptional performance on and off the pitch is vital
But Sir Ian went on to explain that the player’s skills on the pitch are not the only consideration when choosing a Lions side.
“The social and community aspect of what the Lions do is hugely important and we need to be certain that we have a team that can live up to and build on the reputation of the brand,” Sir Ian commented.
“We have been in the incredibly fortunate position where we can contribute to communities, helping to provide facilities and engage young people in sport. These projects have nothing to do with rugby but they have everything to do with wearing the Lions badge.”
The Lions' Success isn't down to just the players themselves
Sir Ian also added that the Lions couldn’t achieve the successes they have without an exceptional team of support staff including conditioners, medics, media and administrative professionals.
“The best thing you can hear from the support staff on a Lions tour is ‘leave it with me’,” Sir Ian continued.
“Even though the process for selecting our support staff was extremely rigorous, I was still always amazed by the exceptional commitment of these professionals to tackling any challenge and providing world class service to support the endeavour.”
“These people are responsible for handling the essential basics that the Lions need to succeed and they do so to a world class standard.”