Monday, April 15, 2013

Never say never - Aucklanditis

Its been a while between posts as I review my digital footprint (another story). So I wrote this 6 months ago and never posted. Seems one team has made a culture change. 

I know you’ve never heard of it but Aucklanditis is the reason the Warriors and Auckland Blues will never be achievers again. 
I describe Aucklanditis as a culture of leadership and professionalism that has led to players acting and behaving in a way that they think is professional but actually they are developing bad habits that are being reinforced until they are normalized (bruce tuckman).
So let me make some sweeping uninformed generalisations, get you all nodding and then believing my own hype, move on crushing the dream of potential players and stereotype young athletes without backing up my statements with concrete evidence.

So here we go, the young guys playing 1stXV school rugby clearly play in the best schoolboy rugby competition anywhere in the world. Its the highest level of anything actually, so if you had a great league, aussie rules or soccer player they are better off playing this level than playing their own game. League clubs love this competition and know how good it is for the kids development. It is great stuff, high intensity, a massive collision game, tactics, skill and hours and hours of training, usually 4 nights a week in season and five in the pre season. The kids get selected by league (warriors) and Auckland Rugby as well as other NRL sides and other unions around new zealand. They are snapped up and signed all over the place. Ive seen average kids getting contracts throughout australia including aussie rules. The kids have all left and gone to other teams all over the place. I don’t care, take your kids anywhere you like, do whatever but i recommend you leave Auckland or you'll catch Aucklanditis.

Here is whats wrong, In auckland schools kids are built up at stars of their schools and the Warriors and Blues try to get first choice, the problem is that the culture at these two clubs is rotten. They get these new stars and they want to fit them in their club culture. they look to the current players for inspiration and leadership and they do what they see. A culture of new tattoos, secret handshakes, how much weights you can lift, what car you drive, another new tattoo, look at my new try celebration, they are the most insular / protected bunch of kids ever seen. They look up to guys who went to school with them and few years before, its just repetition of bad culture.
If you want to win you build a culture, change a culture and you don’t normalise bad habits. I’m not saying the players are tossers and the like, Kevin Mealamu is one of the greats, and if he never played for the All Blacks he would still be one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. Surely Kev could spot a problem and deal with it, the thing is that the culture has been set for a number of years, before Pat Lam, at school actually. These kids aren’t that good, Ive coached 1stXV in akld for 10 years, these guys aren’t stars they are kids who got an opportunity, that is all. Read Outliers, you’ll know what I mean. 
I had a few drinks with a former Blues player who had shot off to japan, he said the culture is closed door, hang out with your rugby mates, only talk with your rugby buddies, no resilience, no saying good morning to Alice the cleaning lady or meeting your friends grandmother. Its just me me me and my new arm tattoo. 
They both need a culture change and Bluey wont do it, steve price is gone and I don’t believe the ex players hanging around the warriors are doing them any favours, Wiki (apparently a great guy) and the like are acting like current players and promulgating the handshakes and tattoo mentality. they do what they see, they follow what others do. You think conrad hurrell blew kisses when he scored at 1stXv for grammar, he didn’t, i watched him ten times and never saw it once. Omar Slaimankhel used to be fast now he looks like an over weight over muscled slug. The problem lies with the kids staying in Auckland getting surrounded by their new playing mates and followed by their adoring fans from school, yes they are all still around every saturday night when the lads go out. Go to melbourne and no-one recognises you, go to christchurch and nobody respects you, go to waikato and you better not talk with a big head, stay in auckland and surround yourself with your insular mates and never improve. the thing is the kids can play but they have to get out before they get Aucklanditis.

ps Waikato should not think they are the schizzle - Wayne Smith made the culture change, and they can easily slip back.
pss crusaders have a crap culture too (what school did you go to Tyler?).

Off to the parlour for a skull tat


Myles Webb said...

'Waikato should not think they are the schizzle'? I assume that you are referring the Chiefs, and have the wrong comptetion or made a mistake.

Having spent twelve years living and working in Auckland, having returned home for the past four years (teaching), back to Hamilton I feel that I am experienced enough to answer your query. To put things in context I have worked in decile 1 or 2 schools for the time I was in the 'big evil' although I spent my time living in a decile one area, in the worst crime rate area of New Zealand (Clendon) and also spent two years living five hundred metres from Eden Park

Auckland on the whole is rubbish.

The crowds at the rugby are apathetic, unenthusiastic and lacking in drive. Eden Park is not a rugby stadium. It is a multi purpose ground of little use. Since the rebuild for the world cup the stadium is even more unfriendly, including a stand where you are so detatched from ground in distance.

Compare that to a state of the art stadium like we have here.

Auckland Rugby should by the very nature of the population dominate, but it does not. Had it not been for some incredibly close calls this season the Blues would have improved litte on last. It is a conspiracy that the Chiefs do not lead the competition standings, terrible referring and bad decisions have marred another successful season.

I won't go on and on about the actual geographic distribution of Auckland, the crime rate, the attitude of the general public, which is suffice to say, naff.

Waikato Uber Alles

Podgorani said...

OK Myles I hear lots of what you said. what I was trying to say is that we have to stop building up our kids as superheroes, overrating them and their abilities without grounding them. So it starts to come down to setting a good culture. I'd say the chiefs have a solid culture (not perfect but solid). I wouldnt say auckland is the devil and that the facilities and all that stuff is their fault.
I would say the over rating trap catches everyone, Perinara, Cane, Barrett, Savea, Luatua, some of those guys arent up to it and will fall in the trap.