Touch, Pause, Engage! Similarities between Rugby and Software Development

09 February 2022 Ryan Costello

Rugby Scrum

We're back into the swing of things with the first Super Rugby game of the year coming up this weekend, and "me oh my! I have enjoyed that, yes boy!" - Justin Marshall.

For all you IT folk out there, have you ever noticed the resemblance between your IT team and a rugby team? Or maybe now, after reading that sentence, it suddenly dawns on you, and you've just had that "Wow," – Owen Wilson, moment of realisation. If not, no need to worry! I'm here to enlighten you.

So, what similarities could I be talking about?

The Team

Firstly, a rugby team (union) comprises 15 individuals, all with different roles and tasks, coming together to ensure the team works effectively. With a person missing, they can't work efficiently, which is what we see when a team goes a man down after receiving a red or yellow card. Each player on the team provides a unique skill set, which the team requires to get over the advantage line, and on to the other end of the field (successfully complete the project). This same concept applies when it comes to IT teams - you might be the best tester around, but without your developers, BA's, and the rest of your development team, you may not get very far.

Just like rugby, the most successful IT teams will show each other certain levels of respect, will work together, and be committed towards the end goal. There is an emphasis on the team rather than the individual – a principle we should associate with all teams. Both a software project and a rugby game are unpredictable, so teams must be flexible and adapt to issues that arise. A winger might need to go into the scrum, or the scrum-half may be required for a ruck. In the same way, a developer may help with testing, or a development manager may need to get hands-on with coding. To complete the product backlog and score that try, everyone must work together and ensure they pass work on to one another when required.


Software development teams have daily scrums to coordinate the team's work for the day. In an Agile software development team, they will utilise the Scrum framework as a manner to manage product development and generate customised software. As you may have seen in the Rugby World Cup Final in 2019, you are borderline unstoppable if you have a dominant scrum! But you can't win a scrum by yourself - you need to collaborate with your team members if you want to get to the try line, and you can't just rely on intercepts.

Each player on the field plays a key role, whether it's the coach or the physio. Each team member performing their role correctly enables other team members to reach a particular goal through teamwork, adequate communication, and a devotion to the team goal. If certain players fail to carry out their roles properly, the rest of the team is affected, and others may need to work harder to make up for their work. If one player leaves, the whole team falls, as seen in the French Quarter-Final in 2019. So, whether you're playing in your 100th cap or it's your test debut, you're all essential for your teams' success.

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