Interview | Rugby International Chris Umeh
“We want to show the world that Germany is ready for the big stage”
A German team will take part in the Rugby Sevens World Championship in early September for the first time. Chris Ume from Berlin will also be there. Its objectives are as clearly defined as its requirement profile.
rbb|24: Chris Ume, you qualified for the Rugby Sevens World Cup in South Africa in early September with the German national team. A German team is participating in the Rugby World Cup for the first time. What made it work this time?
Chris Ume: We had good preparations and we had a good new coach from South Africa in Philip Snyman. His insights and training have done us a lot of good. We have a new game system, went into the qualifiers with a lot of confidence and then the team chemistry was right.
The national team calls itself the “Wolfpack”.
We are like a group, always together, no one is left out of friendship. We had a game system where someone chased someone and then we all fell on them. It didn’t work so well now… but we still keep our name.
What kind of rugby does today’s pack represent?
A lot of discipline, a lot of commitment, a lot of heart. Communication is very important to us.
With the amount of time you spend together, it should fit.
Most of us are at the Olympic base in Heidelberg and it is a great advantage for us that we can train together almost every day. Other teams only meet a week or two before tournaments. We are a family on the square.
The World Championships will be held in Cape Town from September 9 to 11. What are your goals for this family outing?
We want to show the world that Germany is ready for the big stage. I think we’ve made leaps and bounds to better countries like New Zealand, Ireland and Argentina. We want to show that we can continue. In front of 60,000 people.
Rugby is huge in South Africa. Is that an extra motivation to appear in front of such a large audience?
of course! This is a dream come true. I have always wanted to play in front of many enthusiasts who love the sport and enjoy watching me play. That’s incredible. Also, I think the more people watch, the better I play.
So what will South Africans see? You are 1.97 m tall and weigh 100 kg. You’re probably not an active hook racket.
Many of my teammates call me “Bum-Bum.” My signature move was: get into people causing trouble. It usually takes several people to tackle me, i.e. take me down. If I pass the ball at the right time, we have the majority. Then we can attack more, have more space and score.
And on defense?
I am also a good defender. I think I’m relatively fast for my size and mass. But above all, I am a good ball carrier. This is my ideal job. Outside, wait for me to get the ball, full speed, power.
Power, mass, boom-boom… injuries seem inevitable. Has it ever really hit you?
My ulna and speech are almost completely gone. But that was in my youth. You didn’t think about anything, you just played.
You’ve been doing this since you were eight. At that time you joined the Berlin Rugby Club as part of a school club. When did you know: I want to do this as professionally as possible for the rest of my life?
at eight I ran with the ball in my hand. It was right there.
You are now 21 years old and have been living in Heidelberg for two years and training at the Olympic base there. How to make money for this life?
So far through sports assistance. I will soon be a sports soldier.
Can you play rugby full time?
I completed my technical college entrance qualification last year and will start my studies in October. Psychology.
However, the world championships in Cape Town are before your studies begin. Will there be time to explore the city?
We are there for a week and have a day to see the city. There will be only light training for two or three days. Still you can go out with the boys in the evening and have a little look at the city.
Coach Philip Snyman provides the guide?
We always have orders throughout the week on our trips. Some carry the instruments, one takes care of the music, and has to make a presentation about the city and the country. Intelligence should be encouraged a little more.
What is your role?
I was also allowed to make a presentation once. It was a very good joke. Otherwise, I’m actually always the tool carrier. Young people usually need to be carried.
Thanks for the interview!
Interviewed by Ilja Behnisch.
Broadcast: rbb24, July 27, 2022, 10 pm
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