Mark Durden-Smith Column
The Power of Love
October 4, 2012
Could Jennifer Rush hold the secret to Rugby World Cup success? © Getty Images
I never knew a Speed Awareness course could be such a hoot.
You need to shamelessly contravene the laws of the land to get on one but once there the four hours pass by in a flash. (Similar to the one that got me into trouble in the first place.) Anyway, in my gang for group discussion purposes at our high rise meeting place was a Strictly Come Dancing Series 7 runner-up and former girlfriend of a professional rugby player - those are all the clues you are getting, Peter the Management Consultant in sensibly thick rubber soled shoes, Phil the White Van driver, and Angus the Bike. (Info on Angus was less forthcoming hence he remains an enigma.)
We formed a very effective tight five within minutes of our first interactive assignment - why forwards coaches take so long to make their charges gel I shall never know. Anyway, the point of the above paragraph and I guess the course, is that I am now Aware of my Speed and how to control it. Thus, I am aware that my wife is taking me out on my birthday surprise treat in 30 minutes so I must complete this assignment at speed for fearing of getting three points on my marital licence.
And the thrust of this hastily convened but considered posting is the power of love to enhance sporting performance. I got to thinking about this weightiest of issues after Leicester's Matt Smith had been awarded the Man of the Match champers on Saturday at Welford Road after the game against Exeter. Surely it wasn't pure coincidence that the Tiger's centre had just produced his best performance of the season the day after he'd forward lunged onto one knee and popped the question to his then girlfriend now fiancee, Mabel. (I actually don't know the subject of his true love's name and time for research is short so that is an educated guess.)
The time I would usually have spent finding out Mrs Smudger-to-be's name has been allocated to high level academic research - it has proved fruitful. According to my learned friends at the California State University in San Bernardino, a few Profs of Psychology included, being in a loving stable relationship does have a positive effect on sporting performance. In MRI scans people in love have increased activity in the reward and recognition region of their brains. Translated that means Matt Smith would have had a stinker and probably been replaced after 38 minutes had he not made an honourable woman out of Mabel.
Could Victoria Pendleton have achieved gold in the Olympic Velodrome this summer had she not found the Big 'L' with her sports performance scientist Scott Gardner? Of course not and if I had her MRIs I could prove it. (N.B if you do want to achieve sporting excellence falling in love with a sports scientist is a win win situation - get Cupid to get you a boffin and you'll be showering in Olympic gold before you know it.)
Look at Europe's Ryder Cup team - they were powered by the love of the mighty Seve upstairs and their 'bromance' with his fellow Spaniard Jose on the ground floor. Jennifer Rush knew what she was talking about when she wrote the hit single The Power of Love. (I say hit single it was No.1 in the UK and Canada but only No.57 in the States - the Yanks underestimate the awesome power of a besotted beating heart.) Look what happened to Tiger Woods when he spectacularly fell out of love with his wife and add-ons. He slumped big time.
I think I have proved my point beyond all reasonable doubt. I therefore urge all members of the England Elite Player squad to be in long term, stable, loving relationships by 2015 then the Webb Ellis Cup will be coming home. On that note, I had better speed as my wife is about to hit the roof.
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Mark Durden-Smith is the lead presenter for live Aviva Premiership Rugby on ESPN