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Mini Book Review – Winning (Sir Clive Woodward)

Posted by markharrison on December 18, 2006

Last week, I was invited to go and see the Varsity Match at Twickenham. Unfortunately, Cambridge won, but the different styles of play were instructive. Oxford clearly had the better players – some real briliance there, however, Cambridge had far, far, better teamwork, and an organisation about them that just left the dark blues trailing.

This reminded me that I’d never got around to reviewing “Winning” by Sir Clive Woodward. Written shortly after England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup, this is the England coach’s view of the route to the top.

What I’d not realised before this book was that Sir Clive had run a succesful business as well as being a rugby coach, and it is clear that he in an intelligent, analytical man, who also happens to care passionately about sport.

Much of the book is, obviously, specific to rugby, and things like the analysis of the chance of scoring in a three-phase fast ball play aren’t going to be relevant to running any other kind of business.

However, there is a lot to be learned – the focus on Winning as the goal (rather than feeling “it’s the taking part that counts”), but also the focus on enjoying what you do are obvious lessons to pick out.

The other thing that struck me was not so much what Sir Clive said, as how he said it:

We all know that knowledge on its own is useless – it has to be combined with action to get results. However, what Sir Clive clearly shows is that there’s another ingredient – passion – that makes the difference between “taking part” and “Winning!”

Buy Winning! from


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