The Germans are already nerds. While at the moment almost the whole world is looking forward to the biggest sporting event of this year, most people in Germany do not know what's going on at all. To reassure you: No, it is not a European Football Championship or World Cup. It's about the world rugby championship.
From Friday onwards, host country Japan is expected to attract up to 1.8 million visitors over six weeks, with three billion watching TV. The World Cup will be followed on all continents, including in Germany's neighboring countries, especially in France. The Germans, however, will not look. As rugby became more and more popular around the world at the beginning of the 20th century, it disappeared into a niche in Germany, from which it has not come out until today.
Apart from football, every sport in Germany has a hard time. Hardly any other country makes such a sporty monoculture: The German remains true to football for ever. This ignorance hits rugby particularly hard. The national association has barely 16,000 members.
That's almost tragic, because the Germans do not even know what they are missing: a sport that laymen know they never want to try, because they are a bit scared of the players' existential struggle. And yet rugby inspires everyone at first glance, because the mix of tactical discipline, speed and self-sacrificing dedication is just as unique. Even in the fall, the most impossible passes are played. You can see how not the strongest, but the best team working together in a throng forward. Or how sometimes with a single, as risky as precisely shot ball (with the hands may only be fitted backwards) the entire defense is dubbed.
Ostensibly rugby is a simple sport in which you have to fight past your opponents like Obelix by the Romans and a big egg in the opponent's Malfeld (the zone where the ball has to be dropped). On the other hand, it is a complex, multi-layered sport. Rugby is fast, the fastest players run the 100 meters in about eleven seconds. A good defense action is often the best way to score for yourself. At the same time, being successful requires a disciplined approach from all players, including the biggest stars. Even those should not allow themselves a break on the defensive, because otherwise the defensive lines collapse.
"A sport for every body"
In general, rugby is an egalitarian sport. Big, small, fat and thin play together. No one is worse than the other per se just because he is smaller or leaner. "Rugby is a sport for every body," says Alexander Widiker, Germany's record national player.
In Germany, many still believe that a few ruffians are hurting each other in rugby. Not more. "It is difficult for us to present ourselves positively in public," says Widiker, who, together with Mark Kuhlmann, trains the German national team on an interim basis for the next two games. While it is true that violence plays a crucial role in rugby; Since one may take the ball into the hand, attacks can be stopped only by strong physical use, the so-called tackles. But it is not crucial to be particularly violent, but to use your own power in a controlled manner. Tackles over the shoulders or head and leg areas are prohibited. Ultimately, it's about stopping the ball leader, not about hurting the opponent - even if severe neck injuries occur again and again.