The Germans had Paul the psychic octopus and the Kiwis had Sonny Wool the tipping sheep but the rugby-mad folk at Towers Watson tried to take a more scientific approach to predicting who would win the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Using information gleaned from recent client opinion surveys of more than 265,000 employees in 140 companies, the number crunchers claimed to have predicted the outcome of last month’s quarter-final showdown between England and France based on the different management styles of businesses in the two countries. While the English went into the game as red-hot favourites, researchers claimed the pre-match implosion in the French camp that led coach Marc Lievremont to label his players “cowards” was all part of a unique Gallic talent for reinvention that their stiff upper lipped competitors lack.

According to the survey, French employees were more supportive of “energising change”: half of the French employees surveyed answered favourably to questions about change, compared to 40 per cent of English workers. “The capacity for France to reinvent itself against expectations is a pillar of rugby folklore and proved to be a critical driver in motivating the squad to perform under pressure,” says Yves Duhaldeborde at Towers Watson.

Join the discussion