England Rugby Culture Development Programme




England Rugby culture and leadership development programme were developed in partnership with England in response to the observed behaviour and cultural issues during the 2017 Rugby World Cup. 

England Rugby Culture


After observing the 2017 World Cup, Head of Performance Pathway had observed that the England players were not able to react to what was happening on the pitch in order to make changes to their game plan.

They were concerned that the team were not able or willing to take ownership of the game and were, consequently, unable to step-up and react to the opposing team. They suspected that they were over-reliant on their coaches for instruction and guidance.

England Rugby realised if they wanted to compete and be leading in the sport of rugby they needed to understand and develop their culture and produce resilient and adaptable leaders. 


"Michael ran a successful culture and leadership development programme for the Talent Development Group and the insight it gave to all was invaluable. He challenged perceived norms and showed other ways to develop both on and off the pitch which will help improve both individual and team performance. I can't recommend him highly enough and look forward to continuing working with him in the future."

James Cooper - Head of Performance Pathway Tweet
England Rugby Leadership

What we discovered


Of players felt there was a lack of trust within the team.

 Present within the team were cliques and behaviours which had a negative effect on trust and  psychological safety. 


Did not feel empowered to take control of their own development.

Players avoided accountability and failed to take ownership of individual and team development objectives. Learnt helplessness behaviours towards the staff. 


Felt the culture was dysfunctional.

Players did not identify with the team and did not feel aligned to the objectives and culture that was being “imposed” on them


Presented a lack of self-confidence when present with the team.

Players were unconfident, which increased decision paralysis, innovation and development and acquisition of new skills. 

Our Solution

England Rugby Culture and Leadership Development Programme :

Enlightened by these key insights, we partnered with England Rugby to design solutions that helped them to motivate their talent and create a culture which supported their capability.

We developed a strategy and culture alignment framework that helped teams to act upon a shared vision. This new alignment allowed the players and staff to think and act like “one team” that could help grow the sport on the world stage. This allowed the players to take ownership.

We designed a leadership development programme that helped cultivate the players talent and empower teams to execute on the strategy and culture alignment framework. This program included interactive sessions to help to increase self-awareness, creating high-performance teams and decision-making in complex situations.  

We also designed team training sessions to drive behaviour change amongst the team members who were feeling disempowered and disconnected.

We set-up a mentoring network of experienced team members who were sharing knowledge and building the confidence of fellow team members. This ensured that everyone was getting  from the same place and with the same knowledge.

We created a mechanism to share individual and development objectives to breed greater transparency, empowerment, and collaboration among players in the teams.

England RFU Culture
England Rugby Leadership

"I found Michael’s sessions really assisted my development as a player. Listening to his personal experiences discovering leadership as a soldier, it altered my playing perspective and made me become more confident. After he explained different theories it made me evaluate my mental attitude as an athlete off the pitch. However, he also made me evaluate my performance on the pitch by reviewing and reflecting performance. This means I can develop my leadership skills and ultimately become a better player and leader."

Jess Cooksey - England RFU Player Tweet


We created outcomes that worked, were sustainably and are still being adopted across the development pathway to date.  

The team have increased their performance and accountability. Our Culture and leadership development programme have seen significant increase in performance.  Players have taken ownership on personal and professional development. This alone has seen a massive increase of 97% of talent retention in the pathway.  

98% of the players are engaged and feel more confident developing in the pathway.

The players and staff significantly reported that the culture is now aligned to support the individual and teams to reach their vision. 

The team was empowered to drive the culture and create team behaviours to support their success. Players have created a strong team identity and remain a cohesive team. The players, through leadership are consistently challenging the team and organically grow talent.  

As for us, this is exactly the kind of results and behavioural change that inspires to support great organisations.  


We want to hear from you.

We’d love to learn more about you, your team, and your challenges.
Our team is ready to help.