The Rugby World Cup is on and my favorite team is doing well. As I try to catch as much news about the tournament as I can, I have come to realize that every clip of a team practicing looks the same. There is nothing new! Deserted field, routines that look like they have been performed hundreds if not thousands of times, and men going through various intensities of the motions. One might think that the players would get bored of the routine. It is easy to imagine that some do. Yet the best often practice with an intensity that defies understanding.
Even as I write the words, the faces of several players come to mind. They are the best at what they do. From a cross-section of cultures, backgrounds, and positions, each represents the pinnacle of the sport. As the commentary rattles on, I realize that there are several things that they share in common.
They appear to know, understand and the value of the basics. Nothing is left to chance. The focus each brings reminds me of one writer’s advice to a spiritual community. “Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time— this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved.” (1 Corinthians 15.1)
They are intensely intentional. The focus and centered energy in a practice kick appears to be very similar to a game. The sprints are game speed. Injuries, especially tearing stitches, are common.
They are not satisfied with getting it right or even when it becomes natural. It is as if they are trying to make sure everything stays instinctive. They want to play without thinking. They want to do everything possible to be ready.
The intensity of world-class rugby players bringing everything to the game is electric. They are big and quick. They are relentless. They play without concern for their bodies. They also know the value of working with others.
I have a few things to learn.