Rugby: The importance of control

If Martin Johnson is to win the Rugby World Cup as a coach as well as a player then his England team will have to display the sort of discipline that he did in his own playing days. That is the verdict of Society Fellow Dr Barry Cripps as he looks forward to the final rounds of the tournament:


“At his peak Johnson was one of the most disciplined players in the world, a great player with a great reputation. Somehow his on-the-pitch leadership has not impressed the current team with the necessary sense of urgency not to commit fouls leading to penalties by the score, particularly in the early stages of the game. This is the greatest playing limitation of the English team and one that they will need to address seriously if they are going to make the final.”

Dr Cripps says that as a sport psychologist he emphasises to every athlete in whatever game that it is all about control: “Control self, control the ball, control the pass or kick or tackle, control the move, control the opponent, control the game, control the result!”

He suggests that unless the England team can demonstrate the level of discipline and self-control possessed by the New Zealand All Blacks over the years, they will not fulfil its winning potential.

As a rugby fan as well as a psychologist, Dr Cripps expect the All Blacks to have the strength in depth to beat Argentina even without their best player, Dan Carter. And he says that the Celtic battle between Ireland and Wales will be fascinating to watch. He recommends two breakfasts in bed this weekend.