Team Bonding Aint What It Used To Be

News out of South Africa is that the Brumbies have sworn off alcohol, and they all promise to do their homework.


Perhaps Mickey Arthur has a thing or two to learn from Jake White when it comes to player management, although when it’s a winning team you can make up any rule as you go along and when it works you seem like a genius.

So if the Brumbies lose during their South African trip, will they assume the prohibition policy didn’t work and go on a  blinder? And if Australia loses the next test against India will they assume that the guys who did their homework would have been better off embracing their rebellious streaks and not doing their homework in protest?

And there's the rub. It's like sporting stars who thank their deity when they win, but don't blame him / her / it when they lose. In any of the above cases, going dry, doing homework, or praising a supreme being, it's just as big a superstition as wearing your wife's underwear on match day or putting your right trouser leg on first. Ultimately, the player is relying on outside forces to provide a crutch and they are not confident enough in their own ability and preparation to succeed.

Modern coaching, and especially the rise and rise of the sports psychologist, has much to blame. Teams aren't teams anymore they're groups, high-fives and back slapping are mandatory, and huddles pre and post-match are supposed to reinforce concepts and ingrain lessons. It's all a bunch of baloney.

The Rolling Maul tends to disagree with anything Shane Warne says. But not in this instance. Warnie reckons what the Aussie cricketers need is a glass of wine and a good sing-along. No doubt belting our Khe Sanh and something by John Williamson. But despite the appalling choice of music he has a point.

Bonding is about shared experiences. Not having a drink is not bonding. Neither is homework. If that was true then every school class in the country would be bully-free and grazed knees from playground incidences would be as unlikely as a shared cigarette behind the gym.

Tee-totaling rugby players and homework completing cricketers will not inspire the kiddies to embrace your games. Being seen to have fun off and on the field will. The results will follow.

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