One of the unexepcted upsides from the recent debacle concerning my beloved Harlequins is that Rufus and I have had some great discussions about winning. He’s fiercely competitive. He gets it from his mother. She was an international sportswoman before children came along! It may also be the case that he gets it from his father as well. I have yet to gain the international recognition that my sporting talents deserve. But that’s OK. I still labour under the delusion that my best years are still ahead of me!
One of the things I’ve been trying to impress upon my competitive sons is that winning is important, but it’s not the most important thing. They hate losing. As do I. I think that’s allowed. I don’t think it’s wicked to be competitive and want to succeed at the expense of an opponent. That’s the rules of the game. Obviously context is all important. And the context for our issues is the sporting arena. I teach them to play to win. That’s important when the games been set up that way. Not to compete against an opponent is to treat them with contempt. Of course, it’s one thing to compete on the rugby pitch but it’s another to compete in a family fun game of charades [if that’s not an oxymoron]. We sometimes struggle to remember that the competitive desire needs to be held in check a little when competing with our siblings in something that’s essentially a recreational pursuit rather than a sporting contest!
You can imagine the conversations that we’ve had after Dean Richards’ face has been plastered all over the back pages of The Times. The boys inevitably ask me what the pictures are about. ‘They’re about cheating’, I reply. ‘Harlequins cheated in the semi final of the Heineken Cup last year’. ‘Why did they do that?’ they ask. ‘Because they thought winning was more important than playing fair? They thought that winning the game was the most important thing and so they decided it was OK to cheat’. ‘That’s wrong’ they point out. ‘That’s right and as a result Dean Richards has been sent to the naughty step for three years’ I reply.
Winning’s something but it’s not everything. It’s just a shame that the boys have had to learn that from Quins.