Scottish Rugby aims to harness 'Commando Mindset'

Scottish Rugby has entered a new partnership with the Royal Marine Commandos to assist the development of its top performing individuals and teams.

The primary focus of this new relationship is to support the governing body’s identified target of enhancing the high performance behaviours and environments for players and staff of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors, focusing on self-reliance, work ethic, commitment, analysis, goal setting and resilience.

Players will be introduced to the ‘Commando Mindset’ as well as how the Royal Marines impart their world-renowned culture, values and standards, while also helping develop players’ ability to adapt plans under pressure.

Stephen Gemmell, Scottish Rugby’s Head of Academy and Performance Programmes, said: “We can learn a huge amount from the Royal Marines, particularly around individual behaviours and how they go about their work on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s about learning how they plan, cope and communicate with each other and tapping into the point of difference between a Royal Marine and other services and civilians, and how that can be replicated in rugby.

“Our players are already physically capable with excellent rugby skills. This partnership is about adding small margins to our individual and collective speed of thought, our communication, teamwork and shared leadership.”

The partnership began in earnest earlier this month when BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy players spent two days at the 45 Commando base in Arbroath, carrying out a range of resourcefulness, teamwork and leadership challenges, from abseiling and room clearing to building a stretcher from a single length of rope.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Alistair McGill MBE QGM RM, explained how the learnings from the challenges set and the partnership as a whole could be transferred on to the rugby field.

“House takedown is very close combat and replicates many of the actions on a rugby field. It’s very swift, combative and intense, requiring very good drills to prepare the group for the real thing.

“The role of the leader changes door after door as the group moves through the building. We’re driling young players to ensure they are confident as they go forward, taking the initiative and acting on it, with everyone else following in behind and seizing that moment.

“We’re talking very small margins here, about whether you’re successful or whether you’re not.

“Being a Royal Marine Commando or a professional rugby player isn’t just a day job, it’s a lifestyle. Both roles demand complete commitment to be successful and in return you’ll enjoy a career like no other.

“It’s a state of mind.”

The BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy regions have also begun work with the Royal Marines’ EAT programme, which provides practical cooking skills to players with the focus on the need to fuel the body for physical and mental exertion.

The partnership is a formalisation of the long-standing relationship between the governing body and the armed forces, who will continue to support match-day entertainment, with Scottish Rugby partnering the Royal Marines’ recruitment campaigns.