Scott Robertson walks onto the plane and every male is thinking,“Sit by me. Sit by me.” Instead, he sits in a window seat beside the only person who doesn’t know his name, what team he coaches, or even how the season is going for him...me.
You can see the guy to the left is thinking what a complete and utter waste that was. But not Scott. Because you learn pretty quickly he loves people, can't sit still for a second, and once his phone is on flight mode the only thing left to do is talk. So what followed was an hour and a half of one-on-one coaching where he tries to install in me the rudimentaries of rugby and his vision. But what he gave away was far more insightful.
Scott is dyslexic so everything needs to be boiled down to a one-frame chart and he stores all his info - his game plans, his vision, his mission, as photos in iPhoto. Explaining his ethos he scrolls down an email (from a guy named Sam Whitelock) till he finds a shot of a rooster crossing a river on a precarious branch with a whole lot of hens staying back on dry land. “What does that analogy mean?” he asks. I give him a blank look. He says:“Fear…fear holds us back.” (Phew I’m glad I didn’t tell him what I was going to say - a bunch of smart chics letting the guy go first!)
After half an hour on the plane with his frame wedged into a window seat (lucky he wasn't a prop) we moved onto much more interesting topics than throwing a ball around. Sorry guys.
When Scott's boys were born , he told me, he wanted them to be All Blacks. Now, 15 years on, he just wants them to be happy. When he finishes coaching he'd like to travel the world and coach young coaches, each in a town he had won a game. If he hadn’t been a coach he would have been a firefighter like his father. His mum would have played netball for New Zealand if she hadn’t broken her arm when she was 29.
His wife is amazing. He is chaos - she is order. He’s matured more. He likes to give gifts that someone genuinely uses and enjoys because then he feels good too. He does speeches for charity but he quite likes doing speeches for corporates too as it makes him structure his thinking - and it pays for his wife’s kitchen!
On his vision photo he has a shot of Golden Gate bridge which has survived numerous earthquakes. Why? Because they tighten the bolts all the time - unrelenting discipline. He probably told me quite a lot but I get a sense he’s an open book. Nice guy.
Finally, right at the end, when he fully understood I knew nothing about rugby he tried to explain what his strategy would be against our beloved Highlanders this weekend.
And that, my friends, was the endgame.
Ed Note: I wrote this article, nice and tight, as a Linkedin Post about a year ago. I did it purely because I liked the guy and words just flowed. But it went viral and I am basically now Linkedin friends with a tonne of rugby coach/CEOs or players in the world. I wonder how long it will take for them to figure out I really am the most useless connection in the rugby world.