Motivational Climate in the World Champion ‘All Blacks’ Rugby Team

Ken Hodge, University of Otago, New Zealand

Theme: Elite performance

Program ID: LEC-05D

Presentation: October 2, 2013 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm

Room: Napoleon


The New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ rugby team has been one of the most successful teams in world sport for more than 100 years (Miller, 2012). From 2004-2011 the All Blacks winning percentage was 85%. This case study focused on the All Blacks team during the period from 2004-2011 when Graham Henry (head coach), and Wayne Smith (assistant coach) coached and managed the team. More specifically, this case study examined motivational issues and the motivational climate created by this coaching group that culminated in winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011. In-depth interviews were completed with Henry and Smith in March, 2012 (i.e., five months after their World Cup victory). A collaborative thematic content analysis (Lieblich et al., 1998; Riessman, 2008) revealed eight key themes regarding motivational issues and the motivational climate for the 2004-2011 All Blacks team; (i) critical turning point, (ii) flexible and evolving, (iii) dual-management model, (iv) ‘Better People Make Better All Blacks’, (v) responsibility, (vi) leadership, (vii) expectation of excellence, and (viii) coaching environment and team cohesion. These findings are discussed in light of self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002), emotionally intelligent coaching (Chan & Mallett, 2011), and the transformational leadership model (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Adopting a scientist-practitioner approach, practical recommendations are offered for coaches of elite sports teams.

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