Germany finished the European Championship season in Olympic sevens rugby in tenth place. Most recently there were notable wins against Scotland (19:17) and England (24:12) in Bucharest. The boom is on, but the 2016 Olympics are probably too soon. A conversation with Manuel Wilhelm, the competitive sports official for the German rugby union.
Have German rugby players developed a lot of muscle in a short amount of time?
It certainly doesn’t happen every day that Germany wins against top teams like Scotland or England in rugby.
It’s not everyday, but we have worked hard for a year and a half, including starting at 8 in the morning. We are not quite satisfied with what we have achieved yet. But we are on the right track. We have received a lot of respect in the last few months.
Where is German Sevens Rugby?
I think we have the potential to play consistently in the top six in Europe. We can always beat a team in the top six, but our performance is still very inconsistent. It would be presumptuous to say that we now routinely beat the French or the British. We are now home from Bucharest, got together and said that we want to attack the top 6 next year, because then we will also be in the Olympic A team in DOSB as a team sport. It is a short term goal. And in the medium term we want to go to the 2018 World Cup in Sevens Rugby. If you finish in the top eight in Europe, you qualify for the World Cup.
Has Germany reformed mainly in terms of sport, or is Germany now mainly getting down to business?
It is the first truly competitive event in German rugby association. For example, the general fitness of the team has improved a lot as a result and we are more solid in terms of play. However, our major weakness is still the contact position. The top European nations are stronger, stronger and more unconquered. We need a tournament with better preparation. We are working on that now in collaboration with the Wild Rugby Academy in Heidelberg. It’s not overnight. To grow muscles, you have to train continuously for a few years. For us, the 2016 Olympics in Rio is certainly not our stated goal, we are looking at it a bit more long term.
Couldn’t Germany already be that far ahead in Olympic sevens rugby? Have you seen a bit of evolution in this discipline?
We cannot do hara-kiri, which has happened from time to time in German rugby in the past. It has always taken us one step forward, but also 20 steps back. We now have to ensure that we grow slowly but steadily. We are doing a really good job even though we get the least funding of any Olympic sport. There are 75,000 Euros per team, men and women.
Are the Germans pure amateurs?
No, we have soldiers playing in rugby and that means we have four people in our team who focus solely on rugby.
despite boom But will Germany be soundly beaten by New Zealand’s “All Blacks”?
Hit is the wrong word. So, we won’t win the game. But I would count on us to score points. We will sell ourselves dearly.
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