wooHen Philipp Schnemann talks about the German national team in 7-a-side rugby, sounds like a brewer who brags about his vines. “Something has evolved there,” he says, adding that “the core of the team” has “matured” over the years. Now is the time to “cut the prize”. 2022 should be a particularly good vintage in German rugby. “The team deserves it.”
Snemann is from South Africa, known to know a lot about wine, but specifically about rugby. Until a few years ago, he himself was one of the best players in the world in the fast-paced Sevens version of the game. He was the captain of the South African national team “Blitzbock”, and with them won bronze medals at the World Championships and the Olympics three times. Since April, Schnemann has coached the German team with longtime national player Clemens von Grumbko. His contract initially related to the project is valid till the end of September.
However, the project has it all: this weekend, the Germans are looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time. Attending the tournament in front of 60,000 fans in Cape Town in mid-September will be the current highlight in the history of German rugby. A few weeks later, the Chile World Series is about to be promoted to the elite league of national teams. He has often tried to do so, but failed dramatically at the qualifying tournaments in Hong Kong between 2016 and 2019.
A brutal defeat at Rugby Temple
On a rainy July day, coach Snemann sits on the edge of a rugby field at the Olympic base in Heidelberg and recalls the first moment he saw a German team playing sevens rugby. That was in 2009, he was a young, motivated newcomer to the South African team and Germany was a guest team at the World Series tournament in England.
The unequal duel at London’s Rugby Temple at Twickenham ended at 0:70 from the German point of view. Seven-man rugby, a brutal result, in seven minutes of play time of seven and only twice.
“They’re Really Making Something”
Five to six years later, Snemann says, he saw the Germans again at a training competition in South Africa. He recognized a few faces and saw how much the team had improved. His insight: “They’re really building something out there.”
This was confirmed when he saw the team fight for promotion to the World Series in the following years at the famous seven-a-side tournament in Hong Kong. As a side note, the Germans earned a nickname there, a diminutive title in the world of rugby. They were dubbed “wolf packs” by a prominent TV commentator because, like a pack of hungry wolves on the defensive, they pounced on any attacker.
“Be part of the success story”
When Snemann was asked in spring 2022 if he wanted to be the national coach of these Germans for upcoming assignments, it was a “no brainer”, he reported.
A decision that he did not have to think much about. “I want to be part of the success story,” he says. Von Grumbko, who met Snemann during his coaching training in South Africa and suggested him for a national coaching position, says: “The prospects have never been as great as they are now. We have the maturity. We have quality. Is. “
“In the beginning we bought the clothes ourselves”
Like von Grumbko, Manuel Wilhelm is one of the people who helped shape the Seven Programs process from its inception. The former national player in classic 15-man rugby is a member of a competitive sports board in the German Rugby Association (DRV).
From hobby groups that meet twice a week for training, the association has built at least a semi-professional team over the years. “In the beginning, the boys still bought the clothes themselves. When we got the first 150 euros in sports aid, we popped the cork,” Wilhelm says. The DRV now has twelve sports funding agencies in the Bundeswehr. “Rugby in Germany in recent years,” Wilhelm says. Like no Olympic team sport has evolved.”
Commercialization is taking effect. In the last four European Championships, “Wolfpack” won three silver and one gold. However, the top nations are often not the ones with their best teams to begin with. It differs on the World Series with its tournaments around the world.
And the Germans were recently invited to it as a guest team four times. They managed to draw against Australia, among other things, in Malaga in January. When it comes to promotion to the top flight at the qualifying event in Chile in August, the German team will be among the favourites. “We would like to be in the World Series for two or three years,” Wilhelm says. “When we’re there, we’re absolutely competitive.”
But before that Germany wants to make history. Four more World Cup tickets will be handed out at the European qualifying tournament in Bucharest this Saturday and Sunday. Giants like France, England and Scotland have already qualified so the opportunity is within reach.
If Germany wins their group with Georgia (Saturday, 11.30 am.) live stream) A clash with Wales and strong teams from Romania, Ireland and Spain would be impossible. “That’s the goal,” says Philip Snemann. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have to compete at all. When the bright lights come on, you should be ready to dance.” The flock of wolves is ready.
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