Ian McGeechan - discusses what it takes to be a Lion

Ian McGeechan presenting at Rugby union event

British rugby legend and former British &  Irish Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan joined us at a recent breakfast seminar at the Ivy Club in London to share his insights into what it takes to recruit a team of champions who deliver outstanding performance on and off the field.

Sir Ian 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.


His recruitment methodology was defined by three key themes. 

Collaboration amongst 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 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. Similar to recruitment processes in business it’s vital that the recruitment of each individual is agreed upon by more than just one hiring manager to ensure that the employee can work with a variety of personalities.

Exceptional performance on and off the pitch is vital

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.”

Sir Ian, explained that the same principles can be applied to business where it’s important any member of staff positively represents the brand they are working for in both their professional and personal lives.”

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.”

Sir Ian believes the same parallels can be attributed to business, citing that “you can have the best sales people in the world but unless they are supported by a dedicated team of professionals who deliver, support and manage your product or service, they will never reach their full potential.”

Recruiting the Lions squad to tour New Zealand is no doubt a daunting task as is recruiting any new staff for your business but sticking to the principles outlined by Sir Ian will certainly ensure Warren Gatland and your business make the right choices.

Robert Walters, are Official Sponsors of the British & Irish Lions. For further information about our sponsorship please visit www.robertwalters.co.uk/lions.

“These people are responsible for handling the essential basics that the Lions need to succeed and they do so to a world class standard.”