We really hate them don’t we?
Those players who are naturally fit and talented and never really train, they can kick the ball for miles or either feet, they run faster than most without effort, they spend little time working on their core skills, are disengaged or late for every squad session, they never wear team kit or stay for a drink after the game, and they will invariably avoid tough contact sessions prior to a big game. They can however spin a ball on the end of their finger, do drive a fast car and are always very popular whilst socialising with the beautiful (non rugby) people!
Trouble is they score a lot of points!
As coaches and team mates these people are very difficult to deal with.
Rugby is a team sport and relies heavily on shared values such as hard work, selflessness, commitment, teamwork, leadership and followership. Teams will develop their shared values and changing rooms are decorated with quotes from the good and the great (always best to use the words of dead people and ideally Greek, Roman or Chinese!). The superstars rarely comply with these values or engage in their development and delivery.
It is a constant dilemma – do you select the superstars who score you points but do not live the team values?
There is no simple answer to this problem as it will depend upon a number of factors…
Do the other members of the team accept the individual?
Do you have another player who could take their place?
Where are you in the table?
I have come across the following formulae which may be of help and was suggested by a coach with a more analytic approach.
1.What percentage advantage does the superstar offer over and above the replacement available.
2.What percentage disadvantage does the superstar’s presence make to each one of the rest of the team?
3. Add up those percentages.
If the percentage advantage of the superstar is greater than the percentage mean disadvantage then they are worth a place if not do not waste your time.
Having working with a number of coaches in a range of levels and ages groups a trend seems to appear – superstars will take a great deal of your emotional time and effort and they are rarely worth it in the end.
Many senior coaches have learnt this lesson through tough experience and they invariably list “character” well above “skill” in their selection criteria.
The truth is in a game like rugby, skill will only get you so far. To make it all the way as a player and a person in our game requires the elusive combination of skill and character!