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How Rugby Union can help executives improve their business writing

Are you one of those business people who dreads writing? You’re so busy and you feel nervous that others will judge you and criticise any writing mistakes that slip through.


Writing rules confuse and intimidate you.

Well, you’re not alone! Many very successful business people have risen through the ranks due to their business skills and their speaking skills – yet they feel less than secure about their writing skills.

More and more business communication is by the written word and if you’d like to get you writing skill “up to speed” I’d love to help – especially, if you are a Rugby Union fan.

rugby montage

I’m a journalist turned international writing trainer and coach. I’m a big fan of Rugby Union and I can make writing coaching interesting and memorable by using Rugby (League and Union) examples to illustrate writing training. I call the sessions Rugby Fan Writing coaching.

As a fan, I read lots of Rugby analysis and commentary and I see examples of good writing and common writing problems and challenges.

My English teacher at school was a talented South African rugby hooker who knew how to teach by linking writing lessons to what students were passionate about. I follow his example when coaching business people on how to improve their writing.

For example, this morning I’ve been reading commentary: The Rugby Championship, ultimate guide: previews, squads, schedule

(Link at the end of this post)

The writing included these words:

Toulon’s Australian paring of Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell are set to be included in the Wallabies squad for Saturday’s season-opener against the Springboks.

This sentence illustrates two common writing problems I see a lot in business.

1. Confusable words – paring or pairing? In this case, the correct word should have been pairing (to create a pair). Paring – is to trim or cut. In business writing, spellcheck will often miss words that are real words but the wrong word in context.

When I help insurance industry clients they often confuse bear with bare. Another business had to pulp thousands of dollars in sales collateral because someone used complimentary instead of complementary.

Another business (a travel business) confused hoards with hordes. In rugby fan writing coaching I use rugby examples to kick off lessons on how to use the correct words and identifying problem words with different industries.

2. Making sure the verb agrees with the REAL subject. What’s the real subject in that sentence?

It’s accurate that: Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell are set to be included.

But, the REAL subject is:

(the) paring (pairing) of Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell

So, the pairing (it/singular) IS set…not ARE set.

You learn to “identify and go for” the REAL subject – not be distracted by decoy subjects.

When writing at speed (as journalists usually are) – it’s easy for mistakes to slip through.

Rugby Fan Writing helps business people improve their fundamental skills.

In the next post I’ll share lessons we can all learn what I consider to be strong writing from a rugby article.

Here’s the link to the rugby writing that inspired this post – and the following post about good writing.

Fox sports – rugby championship ultimate guide

If you’d like help to improve your writing, I’d love to help – especially if you are a rugby fan who is more comfortable talking about passing rather than parsing!



If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:
If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.
I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti
Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.

TB LL mosaic


One comment on “How Rugby Union can help executives improve their business writing

  1. efangelist
    October 27, 2015

    Reblogged this on efangelist.

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This entry was posted on July 15, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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