When the first team of Munich Rugby Football Club trains, there is an uproar. Players run against foam cushions or form a group and dash for an egg-shaped ball. Rugby requires a certain amount of pain tolerance: “It’s definitely a tough sport,” says Rory Donoghue, MRFC vice president.
Donoghue stands on the edge of the field at the sports facility in Großhadern in western Munich. The stadium with its H-shaped goalposts is a source of pride for the club. Because such rugby stadiums are still rare in Germany. Rugby is an absolute marginal sport in Bavaria with only 36 clubs and 2,500 good players.
The community of players in this country is very international. Many of them come from Great Britain, Ireland or France – including the Irish Donoghue. According to legend, rugby originated from the popular game of football. However, the rules are more complex and the game is much more difficult.
Rugby as a recreational athlete: ‘Something for everyone’
But other talents are also in demand in rugby: agility, coordination and speed, for example. What you see is players throwing the ball to each other on the other side of the field. “There’s something for everyone: You have huge, strong players at 120kg, and then you have the little guys who go through the gaps,” explains player Alex Marka. He is a national Austrian player and his main job is a doctor.
“Teamwork is the most important thing you do as a group, as a team. Everyone is fighting for everyone else. There is character, if something is wrong, no one complains to the referee. You have the highest respect, only the captain speaks to the referee. You learn respect and teamwork. And driving in rugby. – Rugby player Alex Marca
The gentleman’s sport in the shadows
What may surprise many is that rugby is both a noble sport and an academic sport. Originally it comes from English private universities. Why is it not very popular in Germany? Captain Gerhards gives two reasons for this: “One is the sports culture of the Third Reich, which was suppressed there because it was too English. The second point is that we won the World Cup in 1954 and that was so much that the energy moved away from other sports, so rugby got involved. also “.
Injuries are part of the game
The third reason may again be the harshness of the match and the risk of injury, of which the captain’s medical record is a good example. From his Achilles tendon to his biceps tear to various shoulder strains, he’s already performed several major operations.
Unlike American football, rugby has one or two protective rules, but no protective clothing. Players go onto the field in their jerseys, shorts and checked shoes. There are still reservations about promoting young talent because of the difficulty, but understanding is growing, as Rory Donoghue says:
“In 10 years we haven’t had nearly zero, but in the last few years we’ve done a lot of great work. We have a strategy where parents are involved and we invested in coaching staff. Parents are open about that and we see that things are going well here and say: My child can Little boy can do that too.” – Head of MRFC’s Rory Donoghue
“You can unleash a lot of aggression”
Not only men and boys play rugby, but women, such as Daphne Koland, also play women. She is currently working on her PhD in Munich and finds the community and team spirit of rugby particularly attractive.
The physical contact and the intervention cost her an effort at first, but in the meantime she’s learned to love it, she says, like sports: “You can release a lot of aggression and feelings, it’s a guided life.”
Toughness, respect, community, friendship – that’s what rugby is all about. And yes, lacerations or bruises are also a part of it.