HAC RFC: Shackleton’s Endurance

HAC RFC’s home ground, Armoury House

“For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave…”

Ernest Shackleton, quoting Robert Browning’s Prospice

Midway through the 2019-2020 rugby season, the HAC RFC 1st XV found themselves in a bind. They were staring relegation in the face and were looking for a way to ‘re-launch’ their escape to safety.

It was over the course of December 2019 that Team Architecture Ltd -working alongside Head Coach Rhys Davies- started to plan out what became the Shackleton theme for the club. Focusing on the epic tale of survival against the fiercest of odds, the club started showing signs of pulling themselves out of difficulty.

“For scientific discovery give me Scott. For speed and efficiency give me Amundsen. But when you’re in a hopeless case and disaster strikes, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.”

ANTARCTIC EXPLORER, SIR RAYMOND PRIESTLY
The taste of teamwork

Much like Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition, there were many ups and downs for the closing months of the season. A last minute defeat at home to London Cornish having controlled much of the match was followed by a bonus point victory (in a storm) on the great Ernest Shackleton’s birthday. The team toasted the victory to man of the match and club legend, Larry Anfo-Whyte by presenting him with a bottle of Shackleton whiskey on what was his birthday too!

Birthday boy Larry debriefing his crew

The three key areas that the HAC were inspired by Shackleton’s story were:

Purpose – Leadership – Teamwork

These became the pillars by which the club started to reassess itself over those months and helped provide a sense of focus at a challenging time.

While the club had found its sense of identity and greater cohesion started to grow between team members, the imposition of a national lockdown in March 2020 meant the season was cut-short. Despite objections and games still left to play, the RFU decided to relegate those in the ‘drop-zone’ and the HAC 1st XV’s fate was sealed.

While the outcome was not what what the club hoped for, the successful implementation of a theme did help to unite the group. Team Architecture Ltd is now implementing a theme across all teams within the club. This time it will be F1 legend Ayrton Senna whose story they will align with.

Team Architecture Ltd’s work with the HAC is documented here in more detail

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