Welgedaan Lions. When mindset matters most.

18 April 2024, Thursday


Win or lose in Wellington this weekend, the Lions have shown that mindset matters most in sport  – and in life.

They have rebuilt the pride of Jozi – inspiring Brand South Africa – playing with Faith , Confidence and Belief .

Who would have thought that they would have Stormers, Sharks and Bulls fans rallying behind them – to keep the Lions winning juggernaut rolling.



But ,will the Springboks take a leaf out their book –  and bounce back against the ever improving record of the All Blacks, under Coach Steve Hansen – his coaching prowess now reflecting a 91 % win record .

And how will the Boks face up to a resurgent England under Eddie Jones at Twikenham on 12th November.

Let’s look at an interesting sporting analogy.

Mt-Everest-swimLewis Pugh had all but perfected the science and  art of swimming in ice cold waters.

That was until ‘ The Human Polar Bear’ encountered Lake Pumori – at 5200 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mount Everest .

The lake is glacial. The water is freezing, but that wasn’t the problem.

The problem was altitude.




I prepared to do the swim the same way I’ve done every other cold water swim for the last 23 years – dive in and go for it with everything I’ve got. The colder I would get – the faster and harder I would try to swim ‘

This strategy backfired, with Lewis Pugh nearly drowning on the slopes of Everest.

His coach immediately called for what is known as a R.T.S :


Swim more slowly, swim breast stroke, swim with humility, not aggression – nobody ever bullies Everest.

Lewis and his team learnt a few valuable lessons on Mount Everest.

The first, that because something has worked successfully before, doesn’t mean it will work in the future. Have a Plan ABCD.

The second, that if something is clearly not working, one needs to implement a R.T.S : a Radical Tactical Shift.

Lewis found out that day, that one can change a lot of things, like your stroke, your speed, your style , but for effective change to take place – you have to change your mind set.


steve-hansen-nz-training-rwc-2011_2670848 (1)So, how can the Boks counter an impressive 91 % winning record, which is even better when one considers that astute coaches like Steve Hansen will sometimes leverage off dead- rubber games  – to strategically guard against complacency.

People say that rugby has changed radically, but in reality the fundamentals of the game will never change.

You can choose to RUN, PASS or KICK –and if a team does these with purpose – they will be on the winning  side more often than not.

What has changed  though , are the strategies and tactics employed by today’s modern coaches.

The game, more than ever, has become one of skill and speed.

However,  the Springbok statistics continue to point towards a Bok team stuck with old school tactics, which will continue to back- fire against the best teams in the world.

SBStatistics show that a player like Damian de Allende goes to ground nine times out of ten in contact situations , whilst a player like Sonny Bill Williams will off-lay the ball effectively nines time out of ten in contact situations.



That loss of seconds , means the Boks are playing rugby without options and without opportunity.

And without options and opportunity , you can never beat the best .

Put simply , crash ball tactics do not work against the very best :

You cannot bully Everest.

The Lions have up-skilled. Their style of rugby is nothing short of innovative and  inspirational .

52 000 adoring fans at Emirates Park confirmed that last Saturday.

It’s been a Radical Tactical Shift –  a new culture executed superbly by executives, coaches and players in alignment. Players with confidence and freedom to execute .

But, most of all, they have proved that mindset matters most.

And when you do that , absolutely anything is possible.

Win or lose , Wellington awaits .Opportunity beckons.

Welgedaan Lions.

Go Lions.

As Richie McCaw believes :

 The body will do what the mind says

ROBO COP 3For more Insight, Innovation and Inspiration on how to unlock and unleash human greatness – please do get in touch  at robopie@thegameplan.co.za



Rob Opie is a Brand Strategist, Speaker, Author and Performance Coach to Business executives, Corporate teams, Sports teams and Individuals.

  • Rob’s latest book: The Game Changers: Good to Great to Greater is available FREE to readers as an instant digital download on his site : www.thegameplan.co.za