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    A Q&A with Tonga’s Head Coach Toutai Kefu

    We spoke to Toutai about how he prepared his side for a rugby World Cup group which included South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, and more
    17 April, 2024

    Following on from our recent mindset coaching piece with Gazing Performance Systems’ CEO Martin Fairn, we wanted to further explore the effect that mindset and pressure have on performance. As such, we spoke with Tonga’s rugby union Head Coach, Toutai Kefu, about how he prepared his side for the challenges of playing in a rugby world cup last Autumn.

    What were the challenges of going into the World Cup and being drawn in a pool with reigning champions South Africa, and top-ranked nations Ireland and Scotland?

    This wasn’t such a huge challenge as you would think. The team was fiercely competitive. Their mindset was that they wanted to play the harder teams because of the challenge they posed. These were the best teams in the world, you don’t often get an opportunity like this and it would be the first time most of them played against the Springboks and the Irish. So they were very keen to play them in the pool stages.

    Did you implement Gazing Performance Systems’ Red2Blue methodology and how did it affect the team’s mindset during the tournament?

    Gazing implemented Red2Blue for us. What we wanted out of this exercise was for our boys to have better awareness of themselves in certain situations and react accordingly with controlled intention.

    Going into the World Cup, what did success look like to you?

    Success for us was two wins. We knew we could beat Romania if we played well, we thought we could also beat Scotland with some luck.

    As a coach, how important is it to prepare for different outcomes when you’re leading up to a professional sports event, like a World Cup?

    Very important. You have your plan which is what you would like to happen, and you have to be confident about that and do everything possible to achieve that. However, the team needs to know that on the flipside something else can happen which they need to be aware of. But the focus is on what you plan and train to do.

    To what extent do you think the modern sporting environment we now operate in has affected coaches’, players’ and officials’ relationship with pressure, specifically in terms of social media exposure and the scrutiny of performance?

    The world is such a small space now with the internet. You are open to all types of scrutiny and pressures from outside, every person now can observe and comment on your every move. We as coaches, players and officials now have to be much more resilient.

    To what extent can pressure be used as a positive in your role and for your players?

    It’s a great motivational tool. It can also be a way to locate and identify weaknesses or weak links in the program.

    Our thanks and appreciation go out to Toutai and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

    As a high-performing lifestyle concierge company that strives for perfection, we aim to align our attitude and level of preparation with that practised by those in the world of professional sport. If you would like to speak to us about anything lifestyle concierge-related, be that VIP hospitality tickets to an international rugby fixture or help in sourcing a rare piece of art, we’d love to hear from you here.

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