When the first team of the Munich Rugby Football Club was training, an explosion occurred. Players run against pillows of foam or form a group and jump for an egg-shaped ball. Rugby requires a certain amount of patience with pain: “It’s definitely a tough sport,” said Rory Donog, vice chairman of MRFC.
An international community
Donoghue stands on the edge of the field at the Sports Facility in Grohdern, west of Munich. The pitch with the H-shaped two goal posts is the pride of the club. Because such rugby pitches are still rare in Germany. Rugby is an absolute sport in Bavaria with only 36 clubs and a good 2,500 players.
The player community in this country is very international. Many come from Great Britain, Ireland or France – including the Irishman Donogue. According to legend, rugby originated from the popular football game. However, the rules are more complicated and the game is more difficult.
Rugby as a recreational player: “something for everyone”
But other talents are also in demand in rugby: agility, coordination, speed, for example. On the other side of the field you see players throwing balls at each other. “Everyone has something: you have really big and strong 120kg boys, and then there are the little ones who run through the gaps,” explains player Alex Marca. He is an Austrian national player and his main job is as a doctor.
“Team work is the most important thing you do as a team and as a team. Everyone fights for everyone else. Behavior, when someone is fouled, no one approaches the referee, you have the highest respect, only the captain speaks. In rugby you learn respect and teamwork and leadership.” – Rugby player Alex Marca
Gentleman’s sport in the shade
To the amazement of many, rugby is a noble sport and the sport of academics. It actually comes from English private universities. Why is it not so popular in Germany? Captain Gerd Gerhard’s gives two reasons for this: “First, the sporting culture of the Third Reich was oppressed there because it was English.
Injuries are part of the game
The third reason could be the severity of the game and the risk of injury, and the captain’s medical record is a prime example. He has already undergone several major surgeries, ranging from Achilles tendon to wrist fractures to various shoulder problems.
Unlike American football, rugby has one or two protective rules, but no protective clothing. Players go to the pitch in jerseys, shorts and cleared shoes. There is still a reservation in promoting young talent because of difficulties, but the understanding is growing, says Rory Donogg:
“10 years ago we had almost zero, but over the last few years we have done a lot of great work. We have a strategy that involves parents, we have invested in the coaching staff. Parents are open to it. Let’s see that things are going well here: my baby can do it too. – Rory, Chairman, MRFC Donog
“You can give up a lot of attacks”
Not only men and boys play rugby, but also women like Daphne Kolland. She is currently doing her doctorate in Munich, and she found the rugby community and team spirit particularly appealing.
Physical contact, tackling, at first cost her an effort, but in the meantime she learned to love it, and she says like in sports: “You can release a lot of attacks and emotions, this is a channel living out.”
Hardness, respect, community, friendship – that’s rugby. Yes, cuts or bruises are part of it.
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