April 06, 2016

How to Apply a Rugby Model to Event Planning

Growing up back in Argentina, rugby was a sport I was born and bred into. Before I could even talk I was waddling about with that ‘Hey Arnold!’ shaped ball in my arms. Be it at the club or in the backyard with my brothers, running and tackling has always been a part of my life.

Complex team sports such as rugby can be good at teaching strategies and tactics to make teamwork more effective. Even for event organisers, rugby can be a source of inspiration.

These are five ways I would use a rugby mindset in event planning:


Do your homework

Back in my rugby club at home, one of the mantras we live by is simple: “the game starts in training.” Meaning that, if the hard work is done beforehand, the game will likely go as expected and good results would be a natural outcome. The same can be said about events, where, as you know, every bit of preparation and planning is crucial to make the big day run as smoothly as possible.


You can’t be successful by yourself

It’s no secret that the best rugby teams are not necessarily the most talented, but the most organised. Talent is important, but it can achieve nothing if it’s not supported by a structure where many people are on the same page about what needs to be done. This is especially true for event professionals, who sometimes can try to cover too much on their own. Delegating and organising teams is as important as individual brilliance. If need be, find partners to collaborate with to ease the workload.


It’s all about the culture

In a sport where cohesion and unity are key factors of success, it’s no wonder that coaches invest a lot of creativity and energy into creating the right atmosphere at training. Everyone wants to win, but if you’re having fun while you’re training for it, the odds of success increase. Take the benchmark of world rugby, the mighty All Blacks: the players usually refer to the team as their “extended family” and “band of brothers” to reinforce the idea that the bond between players goes beyond the sport. Can you create something similar in your organisation, so everyone feels included and supported? Set up team days out of the office doing bootcamps or rent a house in the middle of nowhere where you can create a bonding experience.


Find your magic

Teams can have different strengths and weaknesses in rugby, but there’s no one winning formula. For instance, two World Cup winning teams like New Zealand and England took very different approaches to get to the top. The common ground? Successful teams focus heavily on identifying their key strengths and using them to build an identity around them. When teams try to copy each other the lack of cohesion eventually surfaces. Your event is no different. If you find your identity, the one thing that makes you different, and can communicate it effectively, your marketing campaign will flow with ease and your message will feel authentic. With huge competition for your audience’s attention (and credit card), finding your X factor is now essential.


Keep learning

Post game analysis is key in rugby. Videos are watched and feedback is constantly being delivered to the players, so they know exactly what to work on during the week. What went wrong, what went right and how do we improve the next time around? With events being sometimes one-off affairs, it’s tempting to leave it all behind once it’s over. But take this lesson from the best rugby teams and  evaluate your team’s performance in full afterwards. Every performance is an opportunity to learn!


Written by Francisco Carrio