People Who Succeed Demonstrate The Greatest Sportsmanship – Conor O’Shea

Whether it is the 6 Nations Rugby, World Rugby Cup, World Cup, Olympics or any game, any sport, anywhere, Sportsmanship is crucial, says Conor O’Shea. Conor played for Ireland 36 times and is currently Director Of Rugby in Britain’s most successful club, Harlequins RFC. Here’s what he has to say about sportsmanship and The Great Sportsmanship Programme.

Conor O’Shea speaking about sportsmanship and The Great Sportsmanship Programme


Sportsmanship is important

because it is why we all get involved in sports, at the first stage of our lives because it teaches you values – in the proper way. It teaches you how to do the Kipling quote …’

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same”


How to react to victory

Right from the word go you are taught to how to react to defeat. How to react to victory. And it’s in every sport. You know my sport is rugby, and whether it be clapping the winning team off and the losing team doing the same thing. You always shake hands with the opposition. You treat the referee with respect. Right from the word go you are taught the right values.


Never take it for granted

You should never take these things (sportsmanship) for granted. These things pass on generation-ally – they do – but you can also teach them.

The value of the Great Sportsmanship Programme is, (you know we talked earlier about) what sportsmanship is and the values it teaches you. You can never ever take it for granted.


What do people identify with?

What do people identify with? They identify with the superstars, the people they look up to. And whether, its reading the book (Great Moments Of Sportsmanship) and looking back at the annals of history and actually seeing how people have demonstrated sportsmanship even within the most critical & crucial moments of massive matches and sporting occasions. Don’t take it for granted that people know about these things. Give them something tangible.


People learn in different ways.

Sometimes that learning is visual and sometimes it’s through the written word. This (Great Sportsmanship Programme) is just a way of reaching out to a lot of people with great stories, which actually we’ve probably lived through, but, they (younger people) haven’t & it’s teaching them that.


Cater for different learning styles

It (The Great Sportsmanship Programme) caters for all sorts of learning/educational styles – whether that be webinar, whether it be book, be video whether it be, you know, on the pitch so to speak. And that’s what makes it great. But that’s the way you have to do it. You can’t expect of people to learn in the same way And you can’t go into a room and expect of 40 or 50 people to learn in the same way. You have to reach out to them in different ways – or else you will lose some of them and that is not what you want to do.


The people who succeed at the very highest level

are probably, a lot of the time, are the ones who demonstrate the greatest amount of sportsmanship. So it’s a huge thing.


Jason Robinson (AKA ‘Billy Whiz’) English rugby league and union hero agrees with Conor. he believes the game is fast and hard but players must always shale hands and socialise afterwards:

Jason Robinson also believes players must play hard but afterwards, always, socialise.

Jason is right the game is hard.  Here’s someone who understood hardness yet put it in perspective with his unique descriptions. The late great Bill McLaren was called ‘the voice of rugby’ because of comments like this:

“Big Vleis Visagie – born when meat was cheap!”

“He’s no oil painting, but look at him working the blind side like a pop-up toaster!” (Andre Venter)

“Wade Dooley the big Blackpool policeman standing like a lighthouse at the back of the lineout”

Bill 2 Headphones

“There he goes – South Africa’s rhino!” (Os du Randt)

“Hands like dinner plates!” (Finlay Calder)

“When he hits you, you think the roof has just fallen in.” (Scott Gibbs)

“There’s the Quinnell brothers – two well-nourished individuals”

“They will be dancing in the streets tonight.”

For more see 60 Of The Best quotes from the late great Bill McLaren


Conor O’Shea is an icon of sporting success. He is also an  ambassador for The Great Sportsmanship Programme.  Here he talks about why sportsmanship is so important and how the Great Sportsmanship helps people everywhere.
Conor won 36 caps for Ireland at full back before injury curtailed his playing years. Having represented University College Dublin, Lansdowne, Leinster and London Irish, his playing career was curtailed prematurely through an ankle injury. He served London Irish as player, captain, Director of Rugby and finally Managing Director before moving on to become Director of RFU Regional Academies (2005), National Director English Institute Of Sport (2008),  Director Of Rugby, Harlequins RFC (2010) and now, Head Coach of the Italian national team. In his first full season, Harlequins won its first ever English Premiereship. Conor has now moved onto a much bigger challenge. Incidentally, since the London 2012 Olympics, Conor was recruited onto an Olympic review panel for British Swimming to identify areas for improvement. He is also TV pundit for RTE . He has a B.Com (Banking & Finance), Diploma in Legal Studies and a Masters in Sport Science.


Full 6 Nations Rugby 2017 Fixture List plus 6 Nations 2016 Table and Results plus  some Bill McLaren Gems

Excerpt form 2013 6 Nations Fixtures and 2012 Results - click link for full document
2017 Fixtures + 2016 Results + Bill McLaren Quotes – click link below

Post a comment, if you have a moment. We’d like to hear what you think or perhaps share a quote.

7 thoughts on “People Who Succeed Demonstrate The Greatest Sportsmanship – Conor O’Shea

  1. Very incisive take on the Sportsmanship Programme by CO’S. Can’t help feeling that the sporting values of Conor’s amateur Rugby era have somewhat diminished since the mid-90s advent of professionalism.
    For fun check out these two passionate fans…

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