Rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward told business leaders how he had to overcome English " conservatism" to prepare a team which won the World Cup.
He instituted a number of changes, including hiring a coach to improve players' eyesight - and insisted on a new shirt for the team.
Sir Clive told 2,000 businessmen and women at the Institute of Directors Annual Convention in London that English rugby players used to wear baggy shirts which were easy for opponents to grab hold of so he changed them to tightfitting ones.
He showed clips of English player Jason Robinson being tackled during a game years ago wearing a baggy shirt and one of him scoring a try against Wales in the 2003 World Cup wearing a tight-fitting shirt.
Sir Clive, who will coach the Lions team in this summer's tour of New Zealand, said the English were "incredibly traditional" and very conservative in their ways.
He told the conference that one of the ways he prepared for his job was to imagine he was in an empty white-coloured room after throwing everything out of the window. He then had to consider everything in detail to see what he wanted back in the room.
Sir Clive spoke about the importance of creating a "winning mindset" and said he looked for three qualities in rugby players - skill, leadership and warrior.
A successful team needed at least four players with all three skills, another five with two of them and the rest having skills.
He told the audience he was taking three unusual people with him on the Lions tour - a QC, a chef and Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell.