To the surprise of many, France won the recent 2022 Six Nations Rugby Championship, in the process confounding the critics of the French national side and its performance over more than a decade.
France won the Championship and the Grand Slam for the first time since 2010, defeating England 25–13 at the Stade de France.
Recently, many journalists and fans of the national team have complained for years that the performance of 'Les Bleus' has been at best underwhelming for more than a decade, and at worst an embarrassment.
How this situation was turned around came down to a variety of factors, including a change in the strategy adopted by the team over that used previously. Years before the 2022 Championship, and on the back of years of failure on the field, the French team changed direction and instead focused on a long-term strategy to win this year's tournament.
One of the principles of this new strategy was a change in the relationship that was made between the French national rugby team and the regional teams from which the national team members are drawn. Historically there had always been a tension between the national and regional teams, with regional team managers seeking to prioritise their players for their own games over the demands placed on the same players by the national team.
Under the new strategy, this occasionally competitive relationship was replaced with one built upon cooperation and coordination where training and the scheduling of the national commitments were concerned. As a result, the national and regional teams found a way through this cooperation to work together in harmony, which in turn made a better trained and more unified national team possible going into the 2022 tournament.
This underlines a key principle in the game, but also in fitness more generally, which is that strategy matters. Where the French team is concerned, for example, the Les Bleus Coach, Fabien Galthié (pictured) mapped out a strategy to victory which, apart from removing the barriers for a successful and unified national team, also set in place an expectation and process to win the tournament in the long and not the short term.
During that time, each game leading to victory this year was evaluated to understand the skills and weaknesses of the team and individual players and the strengths of both that could be built upon.
Although none of us plays for a national rugby team (presumably!), we can all learn from this example and apply such principles to our training on or off the gym floor. By putting in place a training strategy that identifies a training objective for ourselves as individuals and which maps out the steps to achieve training outcomes over the long term with key measures in place along this pathway, we too can find fitness success.
We can also always become more focused on our goals and measures, more efficient in our training time, and better skilled in our use of techniques. We can avoid injury and work in harmony with the training process, rather than being at war with it or the gym.
The French team, training and focused over more than ten years, mapped out its strategy to achieve success in 2022, and that strategy paid off.
Using a similar kind of timeframe and the same principles in our training strategy, we too can achieve success in our fitness game.