Amid the excitement of the 2015 World Cup it can be easy to dismiss the importance of learning another language in order to play another sport. Rugby, like many sports, is surely a universal language?
The game speaks for itself and when ‘Les Bleus’ clash with a team does it matter if the rival players do not speak French, or the French players speak English?
Well one man who rejected this idea is Jonny Wilkinson; and while his performance on the pitch over the last decade really does speak for himself, when he was hired to play for French side Toulon he committed to speaking French.
His total commitment to speaking the local language, combined with some dynamic rugby, has turned Jonny Wilkson into a French rugby legend. Honestly, a hero of England is also a hero of France – and not least as he spoke French!
Obviously some dynamic rugby made a difference and he did help guide Toulon to a Top 14 and Heineken Cup double as club defeated Saracens and Castres in the final two games of his career in 2014.
This combined with his approach to language learning cemented him as a French rugby legend and it all started from day one. When Jonny arrived in Toulon he was naturally swamped by journalists wanting to interview him and even though he was still learning French, he insisted on carrying out the interviews ‘en francais’. Easily as impressive as his kicking record no?
He spoke French with his team mates, with staff – he immersed himself and strove to perfect his French by using it day in and day out. It has certainly paid off.
After winning the double with Toulon, the mayor of the town in the South of France awarded Jonny Wilkinson an honorary citizenship of Toulon. Jonny went on to deliver an acceptance speech in flawless French – and the huge crowds went wild.
We often talk about the difference making an effort to speak a language can make and at the other end of this spectrum is being totally bilingual, or multilingual, and speaking it at such a high standard that you could behaving like Jonny Wilkinson whether you are on holiday or in the boardroom.
Resisting the urge to using rugby puns, you need to make the effort in learning a language, consistently and over time in order to reach this high standard and much like the meticulous way Jonny kicks a penalty, it does start with a single step and here at The VICI Language Academy we can help.