Ed's Smith's 'What Sport Tells us about Life' is a great book, with a fascinating theme. But even he couldn't have anticipated how two Rugby matches, played on two consecutive weekends, could have brought his title so memorably to life!

What Sport Tells Us About Life Book

Who dares wins...

Japan's last gasp 34 to 32 points triumph over South Africa in their opening World Cup Pool Match on 19 September has been hailed as one of sport's greatest ever upsets. In an age when you now appear to be able to bet on almost anything, even David would have started with better odds against Goliath!



But it was the manner as much as the magnitude of their victory which resonated.

With a penalty awarded in the last move of the match, a relatively simple kick at goal would have earned them the three points they needed to secure a draw with that most hulking of Rugby Superpowers which, in itself, would have represented the team's greatest ever achievement.

But no. They took a risk. They had the courage to back themselves. They ran the ball. They, in one gloriously flowing movement, scored the unimaginable try. They magnificently dared to win.


I believe great leadership implicitly encourages risk. Because with risk comes creativity. I alluded to this in another recent blog inspired by the 'art of captaincy'...

The Art of Captaincy Mike Brearley Book Cover


It encourages it by empowering other members of the team to express themselves.  And giving them the confidence to do so. Trust. It's also what great teachers do every lesson, when they equally instil in young people the confidence to take responsibility for the next steps in their learning, without a fear of failure. It's in that moment that progress is genuinely made.

That's why, in moving on to the second momentous game of the last fortnight, I feel it especially churlish of commentators to criticise Chris Robshaw, England's Captain, for a misguided decision in refusing to take a kick at goal which would have drawn the game. He was, just as Japan had done a week earlier, daring to win. You can't have it both ways!

Never criticise for someone for taking a hard decision, even if it may turn out to be the 'wrong' one. Criticise them for making no decision at.

For me, however, the wider significance of Saturday's epic encounter between England and Wales was not about the voracity of a single decision but instead it's expression of another form of courage.

There's a word in Welsh that doesn't translate precisely into English...


Spirit, passion, emotional energy, character.

However, translated it was expressed brilliantly by a Welsh Team ravaged by injuries and with all sorts of players playing out position against a much vaunted and better prepared England side. Hwyl personified.

The features of both these games certainly tell us something about life at Park House. The life I was describing in last week's Open All Hours blog...


An approach which was also recently highlighted in a national case study on how we build Character in our students...

Demos Character Nation

And was certainly reflected in last Thursday's Open Evening, which it anticipated.

Firstly, we set out to develop self-confident and 'courageous' learners. Young people like our amazing Year 7 speakers Syzmon, Henry, Kaylee and Lily who, after only three weeks with us, are able to stand so wonderfully alongside me in the Hall to express with pride and passion what Park House already means to them.
Year 7 Students

And secondly a collective Park House 'Hwyl'.

An intangible team spirit which you 'feel' within our community, and which so many of our visitors remark on in their wonderful feedback to us...