I should be in New Zealand. I know it’s a long way away and I know that it’s winter there in June. But I should be there. I sort of promised myself four years ago that I would be in New Zealand in 2017. But I am not. I am here. In the UK.
I have never been to New Zealand. Or Australia. I have relatives in Australia. I should go to Australia. Maybe in 2025?
We have a bizarre, historic enterprise over here called the British and Irish Lions. They play rugby union and the concept dates back to 1888. The Lions team is selected from players eligible to play for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They only play on tour and they only go on tour once every four years.
In 2013 they went to Australia and beat the Australians. I wasn’t there. But I was so excited that as well as buying the T-shirt (which I wore every day last week in the fitness centre whilst on business in the Mid-West), I also sort of promised myself that I would be there for the tour of New Zealand in 2017. It seemed like an outstanding idea at the time. But in hindsight I should have started planning it then – in 2013…not least since the match tickets are so hard to get hold of.
So here I am, delighted to be home of course over the weekend, but wishing I was in New Zealand. And still wearing my T-shirt (after giving it a wash).
The tour finale is three ‘test matches’ between the Lions and the New Zealand All Blacks – the national team and current world champions. Last weekend the All Blacks won. Yesterday the Lions won. All square going into the last game next Saturday. I will be watching on TV…but I should be there. Next time…2021 in South Africa. I promise. Sort of.
Yesterday’s game was just so exciting. Terrible weather but an amazing spectacle. Everything to play for. If the Lions had lost then they would lose the series and it would all be over. For many of them it was their last opportunity – it is hard to play at that standard for another four years. The pressure must have been immense. It was immense for me and I was sitting on my sofa (in that same T-shirt).
It all came down to the last three minutes – literally. There were three minutes to go and the scores were all square. The Lions were awarded a penalty which if they converted would give them the lead and almost certainly the victory.
The kicker is a professional. I understand that. It is his job to score those match winning points in that match winning situation. But even eleven thousand miles way I could hardly watch as he set up to take that kick at goal. How nervous must he have been? All that pressure. All that desire. Knowing just how many millions of people were watching him.
He scored. Easily. He looked like he was kicking a ball on the beach with his children. So relaxed. So confident. The Lions won. Onto next week’s decider.
I am still amazed by that composure under pressure. Everything else shielded from his mind and focus. The task at hand. No thing and no one else disturbing his concentration on the challenge in front of him. Confidence and competence. Practice and experience.
We can all find ourselves too often worrying about what others may say or think about us or about what we do.
We should all trust ourselves more. Confidence and competence. Practice and experience.