Selection week – the week every player loves and dreads! It is one of the most stressful times that any rugby player goes through outside of contract negotiations and being injured.
The elation that you feel when you are selected is something truly special. The feeling that you belong and are wanted to represent that shirt, badge, town or country is like no other. You will feel proud, have people feel proud of you and experience a real sense of achievement.
On the other hand, there is that other side to selection week – not being selected.
How do you deal with that?
It crushes some players. It causes them to go into their shell, hampers their spirit and makes them question their ability as a player. Sometimes it causes them to blame others for their failures.
Other players become more driven. It gives them an even greater desire to get selected and thus makes them run harder, further and push themselves to the edge time and time again. This gives them the best chance to represent whoever it may be in the future!
All athletes will have different “whys” and “drivers” for getting up each morning for their chosen sport. These will be the reasons people push themselves that bit harder.
The people who dust themselves off after a non-selection and the next day set to work to get better, fitter, stronger, will be players with huge amounts of heart, pride and no doubt sizable “whys” driving them.
He/she will be the kind of athlete who will one day make it through sheer determination alone! Yes, talent plays its part in all of this, but we have seen endless talented athletes throw their gift away because of a good dose of arrogance.
Last week, we on the England 7s squad faced selection as the players for the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Australia were announced.
Who would be in and who would be out?
Having had a summer of rehab and time on the sidelines due to an operation, this week has been more nerve-wracking than normal. This year’s squad is larger (19 in total), so competition for places is greater than ever. We are also striving for increasingly high standards as a team and consequently that means that places are no longer assured.
That feeling of the hair standing up on the back of my neck and the sudden surge of adrenaline after being told I was selected to go, still felt the same as the first time I was told I was going to represent my country.
It is, after all, the greatest honour (British Lions aside) that you can receive as a rugby player.
So, can I relax after all of that hard worked has paid off?
No chance! This will be like setting up base camp at Everest…with the challenge to reach the summit lying around the corner, we begin that climb in Australia…