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'Sure Tie' or 'Risky Win/Loss Gamble'?

Date: March 13, 2018

Author: Doug Manning


You may remember the 1996 movie 'Tin Cup', when fictional pro golfer Roy McEvoy (played by Kevin Costner) takes a 12 on the 18th hole of U.S. Open to lose a tournament that was his to win.  He did not lose because his nerves got to him.  He lost because he refused to 'lay up', which is playing conservatively, positioning the ball in a spot that is less than the maximum distance he could have reached.  In Roy's wee wooden head, the ethics of being true to himself, playing gutsy and memorable golf, was more important than any win would be.

Rugby Canada faced a similar situation on Saturday in their 2018 Canada Sevens game against a key rival - the USA.  After a 19 - 19 tie with Australia earlier in the pool, a second tie for Canada versus US would have assured us at least a 2nd place finish in our pool.  This would have put us into the top-8 side of the tournament and anything could have happened on Sunday.

So it was that, with no time left on the clock, the score deadlocked 21 - 21, and the ball in Nathan Hirayama's hands at midfield because of a US penalty, the Canadians had a choice.  Tap the ball, turn sideways, kick the ball out of bounds, and take the tie - letting the US and Australia fight it out for 1st and 3rd in the pool, OR kick the ball for a lineout and go for the win.  

What would you have done if you were Nathan?  37,000 cheering fans are watching.  Both sides are exhausted from an epic back-and-forth battle.  (a) Take the tie and certain 2nd place, or (b) go for the victory over the top-team from the prior week's competition?

The choice you make says something about who you are.  Both choices are good choices, in my view, each with their own risk and reward.  However, I am proud to be part of a nation that goes for the win, one that refuses to 'lay up'.  In a similar circumstance, I hope we go for it again.  It says something about us.  We're a country that does not play conservatively, we play to win.  We prefer the uncertainty of possibilities to the certainty of facts.

There's a quote from Roy McEvoy in the Tin Cup movie that says, "When a defining moment comes along, either you define the moment or the moment defines you."  Exactly.  Take the tie - the moment defines you.  Go for the win - you define the moment, win or lose.  I love that Canada went for the win.  How we win matters.

 
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