I love to watch great coaches in action from whatever sphere. One of the great Scottish coaches was Jim Telfer. The Lions and Scotland coach was a teacher and headmaster before becoming a rugby coach. Put it this way, you would never be late for his class! Many would see Jim as an authoritarian, old school coach but there was much more to him than that. One of my favourite quotes from Jim is “There’s honest players and there is the rest” This was then qualified by “The honest player looks in the mirror and says I am going to get better and better and better” I now paraphrase Jim but he then went on to say that honest players don’t complain about the weather, the referee, the ball or the pitch. It is only weak players that complain about these things.

I look to the training pitch and I see these honest players and also see the weak players. Weak players hold back; find excuses; use diversionary tactics and try to disrupt things. My frustration is that more attention is given to these weak players as we try to improve them by dealing with their moans and groans. Yet, it is only the weak players who can improve themselves by changing their own mindset. We can open the door for them but they have to step through. In my previous blog I mentioned three players who were all honest players. There were many more. It is honesty that will see you through the low points. It is honesty that will aid a player and coaches development. It is honesty that will separate out the good people and then there is the rest.

To finish on Jim. He held a session where his players were encouraging each other to get better and better. Not the coach, but one player was telling the rest “Forget about the rest of the session, forget about Saturday’s game. It is right now, right here. Put everything into what we are doing now. Crawl off the pitch if you have to!”

How many honest players make up your team?

How many coaches are honest with themselves?

There is a new book to be written on honesty across our game, so let’s start here with the foreword.


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