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‘Better Never Rests’: How the All Blacks are inspiring college football champions

By Finn Morton
All Black Captain Sam Cane leads the Haka during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa Springboks at Mt Smart Stadium on July 15, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Brett Phibbs-Pool/Getty Images)

The Georgia Bulldogs have been the best team in College Football over the last two years, and they’re preparing to begin their quest for a historic three-peat.

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But, with legendary coach Kirby Smart at the helm, the ‘Dawgs’ looked beyond American Football in order to get better.

The National Collegiate Champions “studied” the All Blacks for six weeks.

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Looking to manage complacency during the upcoming season, Kirby and the Bulldogs adopted the All Blacks’ mantra of “Better Never Rests.”

“This year we studied the New Zealand All Blacks, the most successful sports team in the history of teams,” Smart top reporters at a recent media opportunity in Nashville.

“Over 100 years, they have had the highest winning percentage.

“We took a deep dive, we took six weeks. We took a title and a mantra from them and studied those things for six weeks because we don’t want complacency. They’ve done it better than anyone else.

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“One of their big mantras is ‘Better Never Rests.’”

Georgia won their first of two National Collegiate Football Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium last year when they ended Alabama’s pursuit of consecutive crowns.

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The 33-18 win at the home of the Indianapolis Colts was the start of something special. The following year, the Bulldogs beat the TCU Horned Frogs by a staggering 58 points.

In front of more than 72,000 supporters, the Dawgs had etched their name into collegiate football history.

But they want more. Better Never Rests.

“We believe that. Those are strong words now when you think about them. Think deeply about it. Better Never Rests. Our kids understand it, our kids have learned it,” he added, as reported by allblacks.com.

“What drives us for this season is intrinsic motivation. We’re not going to be controlled by outside narratives and what people say, and who is going to be the quarterback.

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“The intrinsic motivation comes from within and what we decide we want to do. This team is still defining itself.”

This isn’t the first time that a successful American Football side has turned to the All Blacks for guidance, either.

Back in 2017, Super Bowl coach Dan Quinn – who had taken the Atlanta Falcons to one of the biggest games in team sports – revealed that he’d been inspired by the book “Legacy.”

Author James Kerr takes the reader deep into the ethos of the All Blacks – looking at various mantras including sweeping the sheds.

The benchmark that the All Blacks set during their dynastic period of success, clearly, goes well beyond the world of rugby union.

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Utiku Old Boy 364 days ago

People might say different codes don't have much to learn from each other but I think it is smart to "unpack" success of groups/teams/organizations and learn what can be applied to your team. I don't know that "Better Never Rests" is the key to AB success though. Some of the ethos behind their success might be: no dickheads (egos subject to whats best for the team), acceptance that those selected are good enough to play, bone deep preparation including the willingness to get themselves physically and mentally ready for the game at hand, "stewardship" of the jersey - recognizing you are a custodian of the position for future players and wanting to leave a legacy for those future players, not wanting to fail the high expectations of the fan base who will dissect weaknesses and errors and (usually) accurately identify the problems, etc.

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Shaylen 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 11 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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