Friends and distinguished guests of Leeds Tykes enjoyed a full day’s entertainment in the state-of-the-art Emerald Suite at Headingley Stadium, ending with a great after dinner speech by former England captain Martin Johnson.
Lunch was served before Johnson took to the stage. He spoke candidly about the benefits of team spirit and how a collective ethos can sometimes overcome those with greater resources or more natural talent.
With reference to the methods of Sir Clive Woodward, he described how his former coach had found a winning formula in the build up to England’s 2003 World Cup triumph. He said: “Clive was all about the detail, a big believer in the strength of unity. Because of all the hard work that went on behind the scenes, we were all confident we had the tools at our disposal to overcome anything that came our way.”
The former Leicester Tigers lock believes it’s not always those with the most natural ability who are the most successful. He adds: “Since retiring, I’m often asked to reflect on my career. In many ways, I’m reliving it vicariously through my son, who is just starting out on his own rugby journey.
“I’m forever reminding him that winning is great, but the most important thing is that you’re enjoying the moment with your friends. Regardless of the level you get to, having a team of good people, who often go on to become friends for life, is more rewarding than any individual success one may have.
“In short, the most important thing in any walk of life is to surround yourself with good people. They are the ones who you know will be right at your side no matter how tough it gets.”
I think we can all agree based on performances so far this season, the whole squad are doing their utmost to embody the values and characteristics that Martin describes.