Playing with the A Team, Staying with the A Team

My regular followers on Twitter will know that I spend my Saturday mornings in Autumn and Winter watching my son play rugby for his school.

When he was first picked in Year 7, I was a little surprised…he hadn’t really played rugby before, and we are hardly a rugby watching family, but the traditional recruiter in me thought ‘ School Rugby right through to Upper 6ths looks good on a CV’ so he was given lots of encouragement.

Starting in the B team, he finally made the A team a couple of years ago and has stayed there since.


In truth, whilst originally picked on merit, he’s no longer an automatic starter for the A team and tends to be a sub unless someone is ill or gets injured. In the main he waits on the sidelines and comes on for 10 or 15 minutes when the game is already won or lost.

Two weeks ago was the first game of the season…he was a sub…they won 57-0…and he played the last 15 minutes.

The journey home was one of those difficult moments for a parent…whilst needing to give him encouragement…and realising that he may only continue with rugby because he thinks it makes me happy – well makes the traditional recruiter in me happy! – I told him that at the moment he is unlikely to get a start with the A team and he would probably be better off playing for the B team where at least he could get a full game every week and sharpen his skills.

Not easy to deliver, as in his eyes I’m implicitly saying that I don’t think he’s good enough for the A team. But then I had a feeling that his coach may be thinking the same way so, whilst not the most popular message, I had at least prepared him for that eventuality.

I could have taken the easy route…told him he was great, just needed a chance and should keep with the A team. I could have been a pushy parent and asked his coach why he didn’t get to start more often and get a chance to prove himself.

But I guessed that he needed to prove…to himself as much as others…why he was worthy of the A team squad.

Come last Friday, that eventuality materialised. He was in the B team. Thankfully my words the week before had clearly stayed with him…his reaction was that he wanted to show the coaches what he could do.

And those of you following me on Saturday will know that it worked. He scored 2 tries and was man of the match. He was aggressive and determined. The B team coach said to me afterwards ‘I’d love to keep him for a few weeks but I’ve got to recommend that he gets a proper run out in the A team. He just needs to play like that every week’

( Actually I hope he gets to stay in the B team for another week or two, to show that it wasn’t just a one-off effort, that he can prove himself over time)

In the end I was really proud after a Saturday morning rugby outing for the first time in ages, and he was energised and on a real high all weekend.

Why had I said that to him the week before? Well, it was sixth sense, maybe from my time coaching and managing Under 16 football (a few years ago now) or maybe from having been around a number of businesses over the years…

We all need a reality check sometimes…need a chance to prove that we really can do what’s expected of us…that we can step outside of a comfort zone and rise to a challenge…that we do really deserve a place in the A Team

Does this apply to anyone in your A team?

Is there anyone in your top talent who may be coasting and maybe needs to earn the right to stay there?

When you choose your ‘top team’ do you give people a chance to show why they should be there?

Let me know what you think?