The Power of Breaking Bread

by Paddy Ryan | June 4, 2018
The Power of Breaking Bread

ILink to article: https://superxv.sportsmatemobile.com/news/12513

t’s Monday evening and I’ve just finished my review from the Chiefs game. Sam Cashman (Waratahs team manager) has sent out the schedule for the rest of the week. It's a big week as we head up to Suncorp to face the Reds – they’re a young team capable of anything. Therefore, this week’s preparation is the key to our success.

First thing on Tuesday, the forwards are cooking the backs breakfast - ‘Brekkie Club’ - something former Waratahs captain Dave Dennis started back in 2014 when injury cruelly stopped his participation in a premiership win. 

Although we all would’ve rather seen him pull on the jersey for that final, the way Denno behaved after the injury was a major factor in the team’s victory. 

He could have easily sulked and no-one would’ve question it. Not Denno. He knuckled down, organised 'Brekkie Club' and went about his rehab. *It made a strong group even stronger.*

When I was given the captaincy at the NSW Country Eagles we took a leaf out of Denno’s book. 

Every Friday before a home game we would eat at an Eagles family home. This ranged from a braai in Vaucluse to my own Mum cooking 20kgs of casserole and curry in Tamworth *(there was none left - Tom Robertson and Tolu Latu were in the team that week.)*

The Eagles were minor premiers that year and could’ve won the flag off the back of strong team culture. 

Every home Saturday down at Sydney University the first-grade side clap on 3rd Grade and then meander over to Ralph’s Café. 

Owned by the Panebianco family, Ralph’s is an institution on campus. The Panebianco’s feed the first-grade team one of their famous pastas and coffee. 

This is a tradition standing longer than my decade at the club. In that time First Grade have won half a dozen Shute Shield Premierships. 

The food must be made with love as well. It can’t be brought at a restaurant. 

Regularly on tour for the Waratahs or Wallabies players will be taken out for dinner. Generally something traditional to the place of the tour - Lygon St in Melbourne, a steakhouse in South Africa or Argentina – you get the idea. 

While insightful (and delicious) these meals do not have the same effect on a team. 

In the household I grew up in it was compulsory to eat as a family. *Every night*, no exceptions. 

It didn’t matter who was fighting or if you were in trouble, we ate together. Many families from all backgrounds do the same. 

When a team replicates this, it makes the team environment feel more *homely.* 

A sporting club can be a little like a family sometimes in that people compete for positions and recognition – like many did with their siblings. Yet at the end of the day we are all on the same team and need to function together at a high level to succeed.

My mum is an intelligent woman, but sometimes I’d rather poke myself in the eye than acknowledge she’s right – it’s got something to do with the look on her face afterwards which I swear I can hear down the phone. 

*If she reads this no doubt I’ll hear that expression all the way from Tamworth this week.*