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Increase Scrum Performance by thinking like a Rugby Player

It’s no secret I always love to squeeze a rugby analogy into my day to day tech world, not just because I unbiasedly think rugby to be the best sport in the world, but because I feel it has a lot of relevances in today’s agile world. Why’s that? Well the agile term was borrowed from rugby, and we can use it to help our scrum team perform better.

In rugby, a scrum is used to restart play after a minor violation or stoppage of play, involving eight players from each team binding together into three rows, interlocking their heads, with the ball thrown into the gap between the two front rows. When used correctly, it can be one of the sport’s most powerful techniques to assert dominance and momentum.

In agile, we usually have 8 or 9 developers each with their own speciality in skills, similar to rugby, and when put into a scrum, need to work together, bind together and push collectively. When you are in the scrum, everyone collectively is responsible for the deliverables, regardless of what your responsibilities are individually.

A well-versed rugby observer can tell you, despite the optics of rugby scrums consisting of the biggest players, the forwards, the best scrums aren’t about the heaviest or strongest players, but about every single player in the scrum binding, going in low, and pushing as a team. If one player releases too soon, pushes too soon the scrum can collapse or your team gets penalized.

Therefore both agile and rugby, your scrum is a strong as its weakest link.

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