English Rugby embraces arrogance

Your brand is not simply what you say it is, it’s also what other people say you are too. Sometimes this might not be what you want to hear, but maybe external perceptions have more validity and worth than they are often given credit for.

The England Rugby Union team has often been accused of arrogance. More often than not it is the other Home Nation teams doing the accusing, with the perception being that England believe there are superior to the Scots, Welsh and Irish. In reality this really isn’t specific to rugby, it is a cultural thing that has developed over hundreds of years.

Now there is plenty of good reason for other countries to hold this perception of England. Historically England doesn’t really have the best track record of treating the Scots, Welsh or Irish particularly well or fairly. However, in the specific case of the rugby union side the accusation of arrogance has generally been dismissed or refuted. When it comes to ‘being English’ arrogance isn’t something that we would generally embrace, surely arrogance is for the Australians isn’t it?

When we consider a brand, it isn’t simply what you tell people you are but also what others tell people you are. Whether the England rugby union team liked it or not, arrogance was a part of the brand. And this is where the genius of their new coach comes in.


Eddie Jones is the head coach of the English rugby union team, and he is Australian. As an outsider (i.e. not English) he has come in to the role and acknowledged that the perception of arrogance exists, but has said that it’s fine. Michael Lynagh, former Australian international, said this;

“He’s come in and said ‘we are going to be arrogant, we have to be like that to win’,” said Lynagh.

“I think Eddie looks at the culture of English rugby and there is a perception that arrogance is part of it – so he’s said we’ll go and do that.”

Giving permission for the players to be arrogant about their status seems to have worked wonders. England have just won the 6 Nations championship, and done so playing an aggressive, confident, yes arrogant style of rugby.


Maybe it takes an outsider, such as Jones, to look at a brand and identify a trait that has been denied or refuted in the past, and turn that into a brand principle that can move the brand in a confident new direction.

Image © Maxwell Hamilton


BBC. 2016. Eddie Jones will want England to beat Australia 3-0 – Michael Lynagh. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/36134237. [Accessed 27 April 2016].


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