Rugby and the Game of Life!

Gavrav Kataria

22+ yrs of experience across Digital Transformation, Technology, consulting, marketing & strategy. Strong operations capabilities & ability to drive large strategic programs across globally dispersed teams.

On a recent flight I started watching a game of rugby and noticed many similarities to our professional lives. Hoping this will help you look at life with a new lens.

Let me start by explaining the game of Rugby. I am sure there are many like me, who do not fully understand the game.

Rugby 101:

People who know the game, can skip this section or better still leave comments if I have got something wrong.

Rugby is a team sport which has two sides of 15 players each competing to score the maximum points by the end a stipulated time period.

Some key rules, but by far not the complete technicalities.

1.  The game is divided into two 40 minute halves, and maximum of a 10 minutes half-time break

2.  The field is split onto sections by the means of horizontal lines. While I will not get into the details of what each section and line means, it is important to know that on either ends of the field is a “Goal Line” (touch down line)

3.  A “Goal Post” is also situated on the goal line at both ends of the field

4.  The objective of a team is to move the ball (which is oblong spherical shaped) stage by stage towards the goal line at the opponent teams end. If they succeed, its called a “touch down”

5.  The team in possession of the ball passes the ball to another team member, who runs with the ball before being tackled (brought to the ground) by the opponent team. At this point, the game resumes with another pass and the process continues.

6.  The objective of the 15 opponent players is to, one – stall the other team from reaching their goal line, and two – taking possession of the ball by intersecting a throw and reaching the opposing teams goal line to score a point

7.  Points are scored as:

  • Try/Penalty try 5 (reaching the goal line or touch down)
  • Conversion        2 (after the Try, the team is allowed to kick the ball through the goal post)
  • Penalty goal      3
  • Drop goal          3

The most important rules (laws) of the game:

  • No Foul Play – Foul play is doing anything in the game which is against the rules of rugby or the spirit of the rules.
  • This is one of the most important rules. Be fair, play fair! This rule aims to keep injuries to a minimum.
  • Ignoring this rule is cowardly. It may result in serious injury to yourself or other players.

Life is like a game of Rugby in many ways…

  1. Like in Rugby, One can’t win without a team
  2. It’s all about the tackle – You will be brought down many times, the question is, One: do you keep possession of your dream\goal or do you drop it, and Two: Do you keep moving forward?
  3. The opposing team has nothing personal against you, they just want their team to win
  4. Every time you are snubbed, you get a chance to get up again. We all get as many chances we want. The question is what do we do with these chances?
  5. There are rules that we all need to follow – Nobody is above the law: God’s or Human or Rugby laws!
  6. You can be inches from the touch down line, but the ball can get snatched – At these times, life does not appear to be fair, but guess what there is always another chance!
  7. There is no time to stand and cry or shout “foul play”. The team that wins is the one that falls more, but inches forward with every fall!
  8. There are times when you can hit the ball through the goal post, but that’s rare. Guess what, you can still win without it! Consistent touch downs are enough!
  9. There are times you get hurt, but it is the risk we all run when we play any game. So why should it be different in life.  
  10. Many times you have to change your strategy and go left or right when the path that apparently makes sense is straight.
  11. You do get a half time to re-jig our strategy and a few time outs, but these are limited. So we must choose wisely. We must remember, there is always a time limit in any game.
  12. You will get tired, so stamina is a must. Stay healthy: mentally and physically!

Finally: It’s the spirit with which we play, that determines how much we enjoy the game. 

But Life is different in one major way:

You don’t have to win to win! A few touch downs are good enough in life!

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