Conor O'Shea

Our Great Coach on this episode is Conor O’Shea.

Conor was capped 35 times for Ireland and represented them at the 1995 and 1999 Rugby World Cups.

After his playing career ended, he became Director of Rugby at London Irish and was awarded Zurich Rugby Director of the Season in 2002.

He then joined Harlequins as Director of Rugby in 2011 leading them to win the premiership in 2012.

Conor then became Head Coach of the Italian National Team in 2016 and had immediate impact leading the team in the first ever win over South Africa. He also led the team to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

He is presently the England Rugby Union’s director of performance.

Conor is that rare breed of person who has played and coached Rugby at the most elite level, the World Cup, and been able to succeed in off-field leadership positions such as the National Director of the English Institute of Sport. He succeeds through his ability to empathize with people at all levels in the organisation, and communicate with them in a way that engenders action and alignment.

He is charismatic, engaging, and believes, in his words, in being all in, on what you are passionate about. This translates into an innovative view of coaching, where he pushes his teams to move beyond the fear of failure, and try and ultimately achieve things they haven’t done before.

This was a fun conversation, and some of the key highlights for me were:

The need to look beyond your own ego and focus on the contribution you are making to the future success of the team or organisation you are a part of for that brief moment.

The importance of a mix of personalities within the team, and this includes the Mavericks; where everyone’s individuality is embraced but their energy is united behind the teams goals.

And the way he summarized the team values at Harlequinnes using the word TRUE, which stood for Tempo, Ruthless, Unpredictable and Enjoyment. And how enjoyment was crucial to fueling their success as a team.

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