And so the Sponsor for a Day baton is being readied to pass on. It is fit and proper that we look to a rugby story to help explain how we feel here at Big Red Cloud as the team at Bank of Ireland have just announced the shortlists for both the Leinster and Munster Sponsor for a Day.

Sometimes you don’t know a good thing until it’s gone but that was never our experience with Sponsor for a Day. We recognized what a gift we had been given and we cherished every single moment of it. When New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup a number of articles appeared that mapped the rise and comeback of the team after their disastrous 2003 World Cup campaign.

One article, in particular, by James Kerr over at The Telegraph in the UK summed up how we felt about what we had done to recognise and embrace our time as Sponsor for a Day winners. The article in question referenced how the New Zealand team embraced five key beliefs that have stood them in good stead.

1. Sweep the sheds

From 1 to 22, all the players take turns to sweep out the dressing rooms. Leave the dressing room as you found it. Mighty man mountains doing seemingly humble tasks. Sweeping the sheds is not unique to the Kiwis. They have just taken this simple task and made it a core pillar of their belief system.

2. Follow the spearhead

The All Blacks know a good thing when they see it and are not adverse to ‘borrowing’ from another team. Their mantra of ‘No D*******s’, they shamelessly stole from the Sydney Swans. This belief pillar means that they select on character as well as talent, which means some of New Zealand’s most promising players never pull on the black jersey.

3. Champions do extra

After 2003 the team set about to make small, incremental changes that over time would amount to significant achievements when looked at in their totality. One of their key players Brad Thorm, had a mantra which has stuck and it symbolises the rise of this team to become 2015 Rugby world cup champions. That mantra is ‘Champions Do Extra,’ be it in the gym, studying the game or on the field.

4. Keep a blue head

Following their arguably premature exit at the 2003 World Cup, the All Blacks worked with forensic psychiatrist Ceri Evans to understand how the brain works under pressure. They wanted to overcome their habit of choking.

‘Red Head’ is an unresourceful state in which you are off task, panicked and ineffective. ‘Blue Head’, on the other hand, is an optimal state in which you are on task and performing to your best ability.

Here at Big Red cloud we won’t claim to have used these techniques but during the competition phase of Sponsor for a Day we certainly did ground our feet as regularly as we could. This was necessary as we’d no idea of the strength of the other companies in of the competition. As I’ve written before, we’d considerable competition so we took nothing for granted.

5. Leave the jersey in a better place

‘Leave the jersey in a better place’ is an All Black saying where as a player or as a custodian of the jersey, you represent all those who have come before you. In effect, you take on the mantle of a role model. Understanding this responsibility creates a compelling sense of higher purpose. The real meaning here is that better people make better All Blacks.

Is it a stretch to say that we left Sponsor for a Day in a better place? We were genuinely honoured to be the Sponsor for a Day for the year and it meant a great deal to us.That we are rugby fans is a great boost as it meant even more.

We are eternally grateful to Bank of Ireland for the opportunity. From Gahan Meats and Ryan Stoves in Leinster and Munster respectively in 2014 to ourselves and our online accounting software for small businesses, and Irish Yogurts in Leinster and Munster in 2015 and now to the two 5 team shortlists in both provinces, the competition continues to grow in popularity.

We’ve had a great innings and we wish all 10 shortlisted companies the best of luck.  Reluctantly, as it’s been such a great experience, the Leinster Sponsor for a Day baton is being readied to pass on.