Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Monday, September 24, 2007

"... but above all win"? Is that right?

Something about the Basford* blog (see below) has been bothering me... and its the header.
"Play with the spirit of the game. Enjoy, make lasting friendships, but above all win!!!"
There is a degree of tongue-in-cheekness about this, obviously, but even so it has had me thinking... "but above all win"... is winning really the most important thing?

I grant you that I may be quite terribly out-of-date here but frankly I would not even put it in the top three. I will admit that for professional sportspeople winning really IS number one. It is, after all, their job and livelihood - but its also true that, when it comes down to it, many professional sportspeople do not truly enjoy playing their sports anything like as much as you do. You doubt that? Well look at how many stop playing as soon as the money disappears!

Professional sport is a different world with different values - values that dominate the sporting media and therefore infect our game. But that does not make them right. What we play is amateur sport - moreover junior amateur sport - and to my view to say that winning here is the most important thing is plain wrong. After all, for every winner there must be at least one loser - but does that mean the "loser" has failed? Did we "fail" yesterday merely because we lost the match? I think from all your reactions the answer is clearly no - you were all proud of your performance, and justifiably so.

So what is important, where does "winning" come? My personal view is that its around about fourth - even fifth - behind...
  1. Participation. Just simply being there, being part of something bigger than you, being part of a team and taking on the challenges that flow from that. It means giving up stuff sometimes - like your entire Sunday - and it can be hard work (ie. getting out of bed at 6am when everyone else is having a lie-in) but its always worth it.
  2. Playing as well as you can. There is a satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have put everything you can into something - that you have tried as hard as you could - regardless of the actual outcome - yesterday was a prime example. Equally a win achieved without trying too hard often seems to lack something.
  3. Self-improvement. Kind of flows from 2. Simply getting better at something, taking on a new and higher challenge, and succeeding in it. Playing your first game, making that first tackle, working in a new position, running faster, kicking further.
  4. "Making friends", as the Basford blog has it. Being the team (and club) that people remember playing for all the good reasons, and want to play again. Its a truism, but worth repeating that results are often forgotten after a few weeks - but reputations can last a lifetime.
  5. Winning comes in around here I think. Its important - you need to play to win otherwise there's no point - but more important than any of the above? No - well, I don't think so.

As sporting values go I think this is what is described as "Corinthian", and much derided, but in the end I think it guides my views on sport and - I think (partly as a result?)- our team's. In the end what is most important to you - a box full of medals or a circle full of friends?

[*And no, I'm not having a go at Basford here, just using their published "mission statement" as a jumping off point to a wider discussion - and one Phil, Gavin et al may even agree with.]


  1. Excellently put John.
    Have to say having looked at the blog previously that statement did jump out at me, but I assumed it was in good humour.
    I'd agree with your points totally.


  2. John

    Nice to start the season with a healthy debate.
    Having read the full article you have put forward some good points, I have cribbed a bit and thrown it open on our blog for "friendly" discussion.
    Spike it was meant to be humerous, was thinking about putting something on about kicking butt, however I ran out of space on the header.



  3. Anonymous4:26 PM

    Hey John
    I agree with you on that and would add that as far as I'm concerned winning is of course very important, but not if it is at the cost of good sportsmanship and fair play - of course we don't like losing here at Letchworth, but if we have played our best and lost to a better side then who can complain? Winning is of course a great motivation, but so is doing well for your teammates!


  4. Sasha7:35 PM

    well well well here we go gang!!

    i reckon everyones ambition is to win, but if anyone plays rugby for the sole purpose of winning then thats not the spirit of the game.

    rugby is played for the love of the game, the ambiton and, of course, is to be the best, but without the passion for the sport and the fun enviroment of team-mates, winning is a very very empty feeling.

    as everyone is aware basford are a great fun team, makes everyone laugh, but their reward is winning as they put immense amounts of effort into their summer training.

    They have put the effort in to be the best but they wouldnt bother if they didnt love the game so much and they evidently have a great time in training and matches, the bond is there!!!!!!!

    playing with the ambition to win, with the passion of the game and the talented players (because they have worked so hard) then of course the next step will be completing their task and winning.

    i think in many ways the header on basfords website has been taken in the wrong way, as from my point of view what its really trying to say is 'play within the spirit of the game' (aka the love of the sport, being sporting to other teams etc), 'enjoy' (aka have fun), 'make lasting friendships' (well thats obvious), then it says 'but above all win' which to be honest in my oppinion is saying 'but above all achieve your ambiton' coz if thats basfords ambition then good on them.

    i've run out of big words now so thats it haha.

    corr whata essay-soz guys!!



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