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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 3 December 2020

Fiona Coghlan on building a team: 'If you’re not there for the right reasons, you won’t last'

“It’s about getting to know people and what they can offer, not just on the pitch but off it as well.”

Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

IN LEGACY: WHAT The All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life, James Kerr cites the central tenets employed by the New Zealand rugby team to bring about success.

One of those core principles is that of ‘No dickheads’, i.e. anybody who isn’t rowing in the same direction as the rest won’t last long.

While former Ireland women’s rugby captain Fiona Coghlan used more diplomatic language at the Bord Gáis Energy ‘Winning in Business’ forum at the Clarion Hotel in Cork on Wednesday, she painted a picture of a similar set-up.

“It’s about getting to know people and what they can offer, not just on the pitch but off it as well,” she said.

“They don’t last long if they’re not of value to the team, but I have to say, in my time, the people that were there were outstanding. It takes so much out of your life that, if you’re not there for the right reasons, you won’t last.

“Having senior players with younger players, letting them know what was expected of them, was really important.”

Coghlan was central to the turnaround of the national team, and captained Ireland to Six Nations glory in 2013. It was something driven by the players, with the key motivation being excellence for the sake of excellence.

“At the start, it was about sorting out our own house first and making sure that the standards were high enough within the squad,” she said.

“The next step was about being as proactive as possible and coming up with solutions to problems. Then, after that, it was challenging. It wasn’t about money, the reason we were doing it was to be the best that we could be.

“Sometimes, the idea of money and things being too expensive arose, but you’d say that there were other ways around it, you couldn’t use money as an excuse. One of the reasons I retired was because of the domestic game, I thought that we couldn’t progress any further because of the way the structures were.

“Thankfully, after that – I don’t know was it me going! – they went high-performance and more structures were put in place to make the team the best it could be.”

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Denis Hurley

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