Rugby and Self Belief

I’m a big rugby (UNION!!!) fan.

I don’ t know why. Football is a great game; incredibly skillful, beautiful to watch, exciting, entertaining. But I just think that football players are rude and obnoxious in comparison, there’s the minority of violent fans, and these external factors often ruin my enjoyment of the game.

Rugby is a game for thugs, but, even in the professional version, they remain polite and respectful throughout and the players are humble and intelligent. Plus, it’s MORE beautiful to watch when played well, MORE exciting and MORE entertaining.

Only my opinions of course.

So…without a club to watch (Swindon Supermarine anybody?) I get very excited when the 6 Nations comes around each year and this year has been no exception, especially as England seem to be pulling themselves up a bit after their dismal first half of the World Cup last year.

I’ve been thinking recently about the big famous guy – Jonny Wilkinson. A while back, after winning the World Cup in 2003, he was injured a LOT and whenever he tried to come back to the game he got injured again. I was really thinking that his career was over.

And here he is, kicking the points that win games for England again, breaking points records, charging into wince-inducing tackles, and chucking the ball around like gravity doesn’t exist. How did he get from there to here?

I’ve had a lot of injuries and illness lately and I’m recovering from that myself. And, I can tell you, it feels great. But at the time it was really hard on me and a lot of that was psychological.

I believe that a big part of Wilkinson’s recovery is psychological. When he speaks about it, Wilkinson says that his kicking is all about his mental focus and I believe that he applied that to his recovery. In the same way he pictures the ball going between the posts from 50 metres, he pictures himself being well, recovering and playing again. And it’s not just me – even the 6 Nations commentators have been talking a lot about his incredible “self belief”.

I’m quite inspired by this. I know that a lot of my recovery was actually thinking I was better. Yes, I believe that God helped with my psychological process (there’s a LOT of encouraging words to boost your self-esteem in the Bible), and I hope that I’m mentally a bit tougher for having gone through it. But I also see how important it is that we think positively, even when we’re in pain or distress.

Having said all of that, tomorrow is the final day of this year’s six nations, and I don’t think any about of positive thinking on behalf of myself or Jonny Wilkinson will reduce the number of points that Wales and France have. We’ve no way to win.

Perhaps if I start thinking about 6 Nations 2009 now…