Achieving excellence lessons from elite sport - Crowe Ireland webinar

Rugby stars Luke McGrath and Hugo Keenan share insights

Key take-outs from Crowe’s employee webinar Achieving excellence: lessons from elite sport.

Achieving excellence lessons from elite sport - Crowe Ireland webinar
UCD RFC, Leinster and Ireland stars Luke McGrath and Hugo Keenan share insights with Crowe staff.

Crowe was delighted to welcome UCD RFC, Leinster and Ireland stars Luke McGrath and Hugo Keenan to a live webinar event for our graduate trainee teams. 

Crowe’s Managing Partner, Naoise Cosgrove introduced the event, outlining the importance to Crowe of our sponsorship of UCD RFC, now in its eighth season, and how the club’s values closely align to the firm’s.

As a training firm, Crowe shares a common ethos with UCD Rugby of training and developing young talent. The club’s strength in maintaining lasting relationships with its alumni is another strong connection with Crowe’s own approach. 

Crowe and UCD RFC have a shared a sense of community and social responsibility. Crowe staff have partnered with the club on their annual Daffodil Day fundraising initiative.

Rúaidhrí O’Connor, Chief Rugby Correspondent with Independent News & Media and a UCD Rugby Club alumnus, chaired the discussion and introduced the two former UCD RFC players:

  • Luke McGrath has made 139 appearances for Leinster, and to date has represented Ireland 19 times.
  • Hugo Keenan was the stand-out player in Irish rugby in 2020. He is a former Ireland Sevens player before joining the Leinster senior team and winning his first cap for Ireland in the 2020 Six Nations, scoring two tries in that debut against Italy.

Lessons learned from elite sport.

Luke and Hugo shared their journey from schools rugby to UCD RFC, through the Academy and on to the senior representative sides of Leinster and Ireland. The players outlined the challenges they faced, and the lessons learned. 

Many of the themes discussed have as much relevance in business and the workplace as they do in elite sport. 

Shauna McDonnell, first-year accounting trainee, felt she got a lot out of the session. “While I’m not massively into rugby, I thought Hugo and Luke gave a great insight into how they balance their training and personal lives. I was able to relate to this considering that I will soon be studying for my professional accounting exams while working in Crowe. They both spoke about setting short-term goals and not dwelling on your mistakes, which is crucial in accomplishing anything. 

It was also inspirational to hear two successful players talk about times when they have not achieved the outcome they expected, but by developing resilience and relying on their teammates support they have come out stronger the other side. I thought this was a relevant point as if we have learned anything from 2020, it’s the importance of teamwork and being there for one another.”

Some of the many learnings from the event are summarised below:

lessons from elite sport - Crowe Ireland

A focus on culture and values.
The theme of ‘brothers’ is at the heart of Leinster’s culture and it is best summed up by the set of behaviours that it encourages: having respect for each other, ensuring that everyone is valued and encouraging success in your teammates.

That sense of family is important in building and developing relationships, another theme at the heart of Leinster and Ireland’s success. Mentoring is also a key aspect of a player’s development, with more experienced players taking the new recruits under their wing, helping them adapt to their new team environment and passing on their experience.

Mutual respect. 
A culture of respect is instilled in the team. Established players respect what the new players can do for the squad and the skills they bring. Likewise, the younger players respect the experience and achievements of the more established players.

Always have a point of view. 
Everyone on the team is encouraged to come to a meeting with a point of view, regardless of experience. Players are called on to share their insights and experience, and it is up to the new players to find their voice in the group as they are expected to speak up.

Holding each other accountable. 
In team meetings, players are expected to explain decisions they made on the pitch. Every mistake is a learning opportunity, but rather than this coming from management there is often a team discussion and a group-based resolution or consensus. 

Building leadership. 
In addition to the natural leadership that comes from the club captain and coach, team management encourages leadership groups to form. They recognise that there is a benefit to having a range of different voices. Cultivating these leadership groups is an important way to communicate down to the rest of the team and helps ensure that quieter members are supported and not overlooked.

Short-term goals.
Have long-term aspirations, but to achieve those you need to narrow your focus to short-term goals. Every day there is something to focus on and some element of your game to improve, and having the mindset to tackle those will lead you to achieving the longer-term targets. 

But it is also important that there are shared goals and objectives. Each player very much remains focused on the team, and how to make it stronger and better.

Another aspect of this mindset of focusing on the now is to ensure that you keep enjoying what you are doing. Come to training each day with a smile on your face and be ready to take your opportunities when they come about, as you might not get them again.

Developing resilience.
Resilience is important to help you deal with setbacks or disappointments. But it takes time. You build resilience by degrees and learn to lean on the more experienced players when you have setbacks like a bad game. 

The players’ advice for dealing with disappointment is to:

  • Draw a line in the sand, don’t dwell on it
  • Keep your focus on short-term goals
  • Seek advice on where you can improve
  • Remain focused as opportunities will open up for you

Don’t dwell on mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes, it’s what you learn from them that is important. Most game review meetings are closed with the term SUMO (Shut Up and Move On) and players are expected to move on and not dwell on things, but rather look ahead to the next game and the training sessions in-between.

Crowe is proud to be club sponsor of UCD RFC since 2013. The sponsorship is part of Crowe’s ongoing commitment to harness the best young talent in the country both on and off the field through their graduate and sponsorship initiatives.

Official Club Sponsor of UCD RFC since 2013

As part of Crowe’s ongoing commitment to the development of young talent on and off the field, we are proud to be sponsoring UCD Rugby.