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The Power of People: By Andrea Burk

Written By: Andrea Burk

Photo By: Ron LeBlanc

One thing I love about rugby is that it is a sport that truly values the power of people and community to provide for an uplifting experience.  On the field, and in life, performance can be attributed to many things.  As long as I’ve been competing, I learn time and again that performance not only comes from things like good hard work and recovery, but also from good people...

Think about it…have you ever achieved anything without the contribution of others?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have experienced the opportunities and successes I’ve had in life and in sport; but by no means can I say this success is mine.  When I show people the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup silver medal I tell them to try it on.  About 90% say: “oh no! I couldn’t, this is yours!”  The fact is that truthfully, I wouldn’t have that medal if it wasn’t for my teammates, coaches, trainers, therapists, family, friends, loved ones, club members, financial backers, sponsors, community supporters, provincial and national unions, Canadians and worldwide lovers of the sport etc. etc. etc. 

It, truly, is the people that make the difference – for better and for worse.

In my professional experience, people either love their work because of the people or would love their work if it wasn’t for the people.  I’ve got news for you; the work is the people.  Relationships, to self and others, will either make or break success.

The 2017 World Cup experience was quite a different one from 2014. We lost for the first time in pool play, effectively eliminating any chances of medalling. It was hard. it was very hard, and all of us were hurting.  At these times of adversity, we all have options; we can take our pain, close our hearts, splinter off, become fractured from those around us and escape, or we can feel our pain, let it open our hearts to those around us, forging us, making us stronger. Together, as a team, we chose the latter option.

We got tighter as a unit and we recalled our core goals; which were to play with freedom, to ‘jouer’. For me, I would call that playing for the love of the game, the love of each other and of the choices that we and our loved ones had made to get there.  I remember our captain, Kelly Russell, addressing the group after our final game vs Australia. She spoke to the quality, character, and resilience of our group. She spoke to how we came together when times were tough, and to finish, she said, “that’s love!”

After all these years of international competition, regardless of where we finish, I will never forget the stories, the friendships, and the feeling of playing the game. I’m constantly reminded that performance comes from hard work and recovery, and it is remarkably enhanced by good people.

Who are your good people?