Jeremy’s Blog – Middleton Hall Meets The Haka

This week we completed the sixth session of some training for all the team at Middleton Hall. I would not describe myself as a trainer in any way, however, I was allowed to introduce this particular training.

Which was perhaps not the sort of training that you would expect to find in a retirement village.

To most people’s surprise, I started each session with a video of the New Zealand All Blacks doing The Haka at the Rugby World Cup Final last year. And then posed the question – how does Middleton Hall measure up to the All Blacks?

Rather better than one might suppose was the eventual answer.

The All Blacks were statistically the most successful ever sports team in the world with a win ratio of 75% between 1905 and 2005 (Leicester FC at the top of the Premiership have managed 60% this year for comparison). But in 2005 the All Blacks lost a test series to South Africa.  The resulting comprehensive navel gazing led to a renewed focus on values.  For they realised that it was not just about ability or skills but about how they behaved – on and off the field.

No one in our training sessions managed to guess all the All Blacks’ values:

  • Excellence
  • Respect
  • Humility

The first is the most obvious. The second and third are perhaps more surprising for a team of intimidating rugby players.  How would that compare with the values of Chelsea FC (win ratio 34% this season), I wonder?  Humility would seem some distance from most Premier League footballers.

During the sessions, a number of staff said they had met or seen the All Blacks when they were staying and training in Darlington during the World Cup last year. The feedback from those who met the All Blacks was not that they were rather large (although they are) but that they were the politest, most charming and humble people.  It’s all about values.

Great People make Great All Blacks” is one of their key selection criteria.  As well as a few rugby skills.

Much of the session was inspired by the excellent book I read on holiday last year, “Legacy” by James Kerr, recommended by my wise friend (another James). An insightful book about leadership rather than rugby.

This is why we have been focusing on values at Middleton Hall. Because it is not so much what we do, but how we do it that makes the difference.  And we also aspire to be the best.

“Aim for the highest cloud… for if you fall short, you’ll hit a lofty peak” as the Maoris say.

Has the focus on values made a difference to the All Blacks performance in the last 10 years? It would seem so – the most successful sports team ever on the planet has improved their win ratio from 75% in 2005 to almost 95% since.  And won two World Cups.