Admittingly, the following article is not directly 7s-related, however, the close connections between German rugby and the Bamboos as well as the extraordinary developments, makes it well worth reporting.
While many rugby fans around the globe most likely followed the events at Twickenham, Cardiff and Edinburgh last weekend, in the south of France, Kenya, Canada, Hong Kong and Germany, were fighting for the very last spot at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
In a round-robin style tournament, the winner of the so-called “repechage” gets rewarded with the honour to join New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia in Pool B. While Canada, an eight-time World Cup participant, is very familiar with the world’s most important rugby event, the other teams never been to any World Cups, hence the high stakes of these playoffs.
In the opening round of the competition last Sunday, the Canadians underlined their high ambitions to remain a World Cup regular, with a convincing and comfortable 65-19 win over Kenya.
The second match of the day, between favourites Hong Kong and underdogs Germany was a much tighter contest especially in the first half which was dominated by the boot.
In the second half, to the surprise of some, the Germans started to take control of the game and with two tries and a strong performance from the tee, the side coached by former Toulon and Bath manager Mike Ford, secured a 26-9 victory in the end.
With the much-anticipated clash between Canada and Germany on the cards, it’s fair to say that the winner of this particular contest can start looking into flights to Tokyo next year. For Germany, it will be without a doubt the most important test in their history.
Ironically, not so long ago, no one linked with German rugby dared to even dream about a World Cup ticket. After a long-lasting dispute between the main investor of German rugby Hans-Peter Wild and the German Rugby Board (DRV) which climaxed in a player walkout, all hopes to have a strong and competitive international rugby team in a football-mad nation were buried.
However, thanks to a series of completely unforeseeable events, which resulted in the disqualification of rivals Romania, Belgium, and Spain after fielding ineligible player, suddenly the Germans had the unique chance to qualify for the World Cup.
Expectedly, although with great bravery, they lost the two-legged matches against Samoa which secured direct qualification. Nevertheless, now a huge and realistic opportunity waits for the team as they go head to head with the Canucks this Saturday in Marseille.
There is not much history between those two sides as this is the first time they go head-to-head. Canada currently ranked 21, while Germany moved up to 26 in the world rankings after last week’s victory. Both teams should enter the encounter with plenty of confidence and optimism.
For Germany, a country which has not often been associated with the oval-shaped ball game, it would be a fairy tale in the waiting if they manage to make it all the way to Japan.
In the UK the match will be live-streamed on the World Rugby YouTube channel. Kick-off is 15:00 GMT and 16:00 local time.