Every empire has had a game that personifies its values and represents its national culture. Rugby was the game of the British empire, from which it has since spread to many nations outside the commonwealth. Indeed, the Japanese world cup has been the most enormous success in strengthening the ties between the people of Japan and its western allies, at a time when the participants are being forced to grow ever closer in their alliance to contain Chinese expansionary ambitions.
To those of you not familiar with rugby, it is a game of great skill brutality and yet complexity and its players have to be exceptionally tough and smart. It comprises a 15 man team game with eight men on the reserve bench, all of which are rotated through the 80-minute game to maximise team impact and to change the tactical focus as the game develops. Above all things it is the ultimate team game and the collective belief and cohesion of the team are critical to winning. Despite the physicality of the game, its coaches and players expound the most impressive sporting ethos and respect for each other, and as such it should be considered the gold standard for sporting values and leadership. From England's sports fields, were shaped the greatest leaders in the mature British empire. Hence its significance as a national game to Britain is perhaps greater than recognised by modern commentators. Thus a potential English victory at the world cup has much greater significance than most people appreciate for the geopolitical status of Britain.
I have often described, national energy as it relates to the five-phase life cycle of nations and empires. It is, in essence, the same national energy that drives expansion through aspiration, coherence of intent and organisation which ultimately leads to the external manifestation of power and influence. Hence the importance that I place on watching rising powers ascend through the Olympic gold medal table, as sport is one of the leading manifestations of national energy. It was Britain's success with a third and a second that clearly signalled that Britain was in an expansive phase. To that end monitoring British, sporting achievements takes on a greater significance than just entertainment, as the expansionary energy of a nation cascades down the fractal degrees to its component organisations. With success and heroic actions inspiring whole nations at critical times, as did South Africa in its world cup win against New Zealand in 1995, which bonded a then fractured rainbow nation into Mandela's dream.
Three years ago, I made the prediction that England would win the next Rugby world cup. Interestingly even up to just before the World Cup commenced, I felt like a voice in the wilderness, when surely it should have been obvious how powerful England had become and that it was a serious contender for the World Cup? Put simply, the energy behind the English Rugby team and its transformation is the very same energy that is driving the Brexit transformation.
Looking back in time when 'Sir' Eddie Jones (as a knighthood is inevitable) took over as head coach of the English Rugby team, it was in disarray (much as the conservative party was before Boris’s arrival!). Eddie had one clear goal and that was to build a team that would win the World Cup and beat the All Blacks who had been dominant for the previous 12 years. In doing so Eddie, planned to lay the seeds of British Rugby dominance for at least the next decade. But first he had to find and mould his team, much as Boris started to do when he removed the remainers from his party. Initially, Eddie started with the team he inherited, much as Boris was forced to do. But soon Eddie started to shape his own new and revitalised team, as Boris will do post winning a clear working majority after the next election.
Eddies' selections have been bold and at times experimental. That coaching vision was coupled with his gift of unlocking and empowering his players, coupled with an unceasing drive for excellence that he imbued within every player and his coaching team. Lastly Eddie encouraged fact-based analysis of his teams playing characteristics to provide a real-time feedback loop to enhance performance. The best example of which was the evolution of the highest levels of discipline on the pitch, enforced during practices, which meant that England gave only a few penalties away even when under the greatest pressure. But as the team's confidence and basic skills grew, then Eddie went further and encouraged and released vibrant collective creativity which was harnessed to find new and better ways to play and surpass the All Blacks (Boris will no doubt do something very similar to Britain post winning the next election allowing it to become the powerhouse of Europe). Thus Eddie, unlike any coach before him had harnessed the resources of the biggest rugby nation into a coherent force. This was an English squad of unprecedented depth and world-class talent that combined the power and set-piece skills of Clive Woodward's 2003 winning team, with the speed and imagination in an attack of the All Blacks, and line speed the meant that even when the All Blacks had the ball, they were going backward. This remarkable skill set was then rounded off with a defence that was practically unbreakable.
However, there was one essential element that is perhaps underrated and that was Eddie himself. He first clearly demonstrated his remarkable coaching talents to the northern hemisphere, when he coached the diminutive Japanese team, to beat the South Africans in the last World Cup. To do that he harnessed the ethics of Bushido warriors into the hearts of his team into an unforgettable performance. If Rugby is a ritualized battle, then the coach is the general. Eddies' mastery of this ritual warfare would impress even Sun Zu. From his understanding of his and the opponent's collective psychology and how to shape the terrain before the game starts, to watching the opposition playing style and then selecting his team's strategy to counter the enemy's strengths and exploit their weaknesses. Similarly, Boris and Cummings have faced the remainers apparent dominance in parliament by making the battle about the electorate and the next election. Eddie also imbued his team with a high level of cohesion, self-belief, and trust in his judgment, such that he was able to energise in his team with the belief that the All Blacks could and would bleed when pressurised. This combination of leadership with a visionary strategy combined with perfect field execution and depth of player reserves has never been more clearly demonstrated than the way England dominated the All Blacks in the semi-final in the sensational Black and White Battle.
The first warning sign to the All Blacks that something was very wrong was the way that England faced their much-feared Haka. This war dance was traditionally designed to intimidate an enemy and strike fear into their hearts, so that they either ran away or were sufficiently stunned to make them easier to defeat in the opening moments of the battle. Thus to be allowed to perform such a war dance before a rugby match has, in my opinion, always been an unfair advantage to the All Blacks and Pacific Island teams. The usual response of England and most other teams up to now has been to form a line, with their arms on each other's shoulders and pretend it was not really happening.
However, as clearly expounded in the great Sumo competitions, where the two contestants throw salt before each bout, the way they threw salt demolished the depth of their intention to win. When watching Sumo competitions I used to play the game of guessing the winner by the intention with which they threw their salt and 80% of the time it was predictive of success, regardless of skills! So when the English team faced the Haka and formed a V shape, that also crossed the midfield line, they demonstrated an attacking intent, despite the linesman trying to usher the team backward! The English energetic signals were truly remarkable. The V was designed to contain the arrowhead of the Haka, and the symbology that the V was for Victory and went into the All Blacks half was clearly one of aggression, and finally the intention etched on every English players face, was one that showed a steely powerful determination that won the battle of intention, before the game even started. (Similarly, Boris’s determination to leave the EU is far greater than either EU or the remainers in parliament, creating an inevitability that Britain is leaving)
Thus using this new and very creative energetic technique (common amongst skilful martial artists) the English team reflected back all that Haka energy on to All Blacks. It was thus no surprise that England scored in the first 90 seconds and from that moment onwards England had and never lost control of the game, displaying total dominance in every aspect of play, as they went on to win one the greatest games in English rugby history.
Looking forward It is an almost foregone conclusion that England will win next week, however, the surprise will be how they play, as Eddie's team is all about excellence, so they will seek to not just win but to dominate the Boks. Winning next week will not only be significant as their second win in world cup history, but it will also usher in a new period of English rugby dominance for the next decade. Similarly, I would expect Boris and his now polarised Conservatives to win a landslide vote at the next election and usher in a new creative expansive phase in Britain's history that sees it rise to be the powerhouse of Europe quickly overtaking Germany.
There is another interesting parallel between Boris and Eddie, and that is the way the press and commentators failed to understand Eddie's vision and how all the building blocks were in place before the World Cup, such that they were surprised by their recent win. Now they have switched to heroic worship overnight. Similarly, the press outside The Torygraph responded similarly to Boris, with liberal amounts of scathing criticisms, but that too will inevitably switch in the months ahead as he makes progress to enact Brexit and a new vision for Britain. There will come a time when our post-empire British press starts to view the nation in a less destructive and more supportive and encouraging light as the social mood of the nation improves in the decade ahead... but let's hope that comes sooner rather than later!
Lastly, if my sports and political predictions are not bold enough for you, then I have one more based on the question: what do Eddie Jones, Boris and the Brexitiers and Ben Ainsley all have in common? Answer: They represent the right-brained creative energy suffusing Britain's society in an unstoppable wave of creativity and success. Thus as the dominant maritime power, Britain lost America's Cup in 1851 on the first race around the Isle of Wight and has never seen the cup since. In 2021, Britain will challenge it again under the INEOS team banner and I predict that Britain will win it back for the first time. A significance that cannot be missed when linked to a post-Brexit Britain as its the returns to a global maritime paradigm