8 Rugby Metaphors Used In Business You Should Know

The Rugby World Cup is currently underway in Japan, making rugby terms particularly topical.  As we gear up for the final this Saturday between England and South Africa, here are eight well known rugby metaphors which you will frequently come across in business.

1. A safe pair of hands

Sports use: Someone who is good at catching the ball and rarely drops it.
Business use: Someone who doesn’t make many mistakes.
Example: We hired him as we thought he would be a safe pair of hands.

2. A hospital pass

Sports use: A pass made to a team-mate who will clearly be tackled heavily as soon as the ball is received.
Business use: Giving someone a task that they are very likely to fail at.
Example: Giving Jack responsibility for the company’s Brexit preparations was a hospital pass.

3. Kick for touch

Sports use: A safe option. You can gain ground without risk – particularly useful when you can’t think of anything better to do.
Business use: Giving a safe answer and not really answer the question.
Example: The chief executive kicked for touch when asked a question about the environmental impact of the new product they were launching.

4. Pushover

Sports use: A team with a strong scrum can score a try by pushing the other team over their end line.
Business use: Proving that you can (or can’t, if used negatively) easily be set aside.
Example: The leadership debate proved that he was no pushover.

5. Wrong footed

Sports use: When a player tries to block an opponent but is caught by surprise when the opponent suddenly changes direction.
Business Use: Using surprise tactics on the competition.
Example: Boris Johnson was wrong footed by some of his own party members’ proposals for the latest version of his Brexit deal.

6. Over the line

Sports use: A try (the rugby equivalent of a goal) is scored when a team gets the ball over the goal line and grounds the ball (makes contact with the ground).
Business use: To finalise a deal, complete a project or to get a result.
Example: We need another meeting to get this over the line. 

7. Carry the ball

Sports use: The ball can be carried to advance towards the end line to score a try (points).
Business use: Used to describe someone who takes on responsibility and moves forward.
Example: She will make a great leader and have a successful career as she’s used to carrying the ball.

8. Drop the ball

Sports use: The ball is dropped allowing the opposition to take possession.
Business use: Used to describe someone who makes mistakes or misses an opportunity.
Example: We didn’t hire him as we heard he has a tendency to drop the ball.

Moving forward

We hope you find these metaphors helpful. If you would like to arrange English language training of assistance with your business communication in English, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The London School of English offers high quality English language training for motivated adults from all professional backgrounds. We give you the tools and skills you need to communicate successfully in your field of expertise and to expand your business and career opportunities. Call us on +46 8 5999 4000 or email us at info@londonschool.se for more information about our tailored tuition. 


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