Team resilience the key as England kick off home Rugby World Cup

With England kicking off the 2015 Rugby World Cup at Twickenham this evening (Friday 18th September), sport psychologists at Loughborough University have studied the processes of team resilience shown by a World Cup winning team.

Dr David Fletcher, Paul Morgan and Mustafa Sarkar from the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences have studied the autobiographies of eight members of the 2003 England World Cup winning team.

Under the guidance of head coach Clive Woodward, the England team faced adversity on the pitch in the form of defeats in Grand Slam deciders and a difficult 1999 World Cup campaign, alongside problems off the pitch, such as family bereavements and a player strike over pay and conditions.

By assessing the autobiographies the findings revealed five main psychosocial processes that underpinned team resilience:

• Transformational leadership
• Shared team leadership
• Team learning
• Social identity
• Positive emotions

Speaking about the research Dr David Fletcher from Loughborough University said:

“In order to achieve success at the highest levels of elite sport, the cultivation of team resilience processes appears to be pivotal over time in protecting teams from negative consequences that may be encountered along the pathway to sporting excellence.

“Our research has shown that by displaying these processes the England team was able to deal with adversity on and off the pitch, and go down in history as World Cup winners.

“Interestingly, the ability of the current England team to manage pressurised situations such as conceding early scores in the first two Six Nations matches resonates with that of the 2003 team which frequently displayed a capacity to grind out a win despite a variety of setbacks.”

The team resilience study is part of a wider programme that Dr Fletcher and his research group are conducting. Current papers that have been published in this area include:

- Psychological resilience in Olympic Champions
- A review of resilience definitions, concepts and theory
- How should we measure psychological resilience in sport performers?
- Defining and characterising team resilience in elite sport
- Psychological resilience and thriving in high achievers
- Psychological resilience in sport performers: A review of stressors and protective factors

To view the full team resilience study please visit here.

David Fletcher is available for media requests throughout the Rugby World Cup. Please contact Pete Matthews on P.W.Matthews to set up any activity.


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