In a small village just outside Gütersloh some BFG-based rugby players have been having a big impact on a local team.
Wiedenbrücker rugby club have been around for over 45 years and are based in the small town of Rheda-Wiedenbrück, but for a small town team they pack a big punch and recently have been mixing it with the big boys of German rugby.
Under 18’s coach Henry Dixon spoke of how the team have been training: “It’s the summer now, so they’re training specifically for sevens rugby, but they have played most of the season 15s. Quite a few of them have played for North Rhine-Westphalia as well; they’re the core. Certainly the sevens team for North Rhine Westphalia is players from here – from Wiedenbrück – and close to a half of the 15s team come from Wiedenbrück as well.”
As for the military presence in the team Henry said: “There is probably 50-60 per cent of the team come from the military community across BFG.
“They have certainly brought a lot, the rugby here in Wiedenbrück has been very strong for a long time on a kind of German level, but the boys have played rugby since primary school in the British system; they have probably got a deeper and better understanding of rugby and they have seen it within the military community, they bring a different perspective to that as well.”
Recently the team competed in the German championships and Dixon recapped on how his team played: “We didn’t do great in the 15s championship, but having said that there were only four teams turn up from the whole of Germany and we made it; we got there with just about a full team, so for the kind of standard of German youth rugby, they did exceptionally well.”
Obviously drawdown affects the military and everyone who is part of it, but it will also affect a lot of areas in and around BFG. Henry elaborated: “With drawdown we know that players are going to be leaving in the summer, we just have to accept that’s part of military life and part of drawdown; it’s going to be a shame, but I’m certainly glad and the boys are glad that we have done it whilst we can and hope to keep it going for as long as possible.”
Will Fredrickson is the Under 18’s captain and spoke highly of his teammates and the team as a whole: “I love the diversity in the team and how we are not full English as well, we have Fijians and we are working with the German players and teaching them our ways and they’re teaching us their ways of playing rugby. Also learning about different cultures is really good and I enjoy it.
I recently got picked as captain for the Wiedenbrück team about two months ago, which I’m really proud of. I have never been picked to play as captain before and I’m also now captain for the NRW team – the county team – as well, so I’m really enjoying it. It’s such a great honour being captain for such a great team, especially a rugby team, I think that it’s the proudest moment I’ve had.”
A captain has to be passionate about the team and be a leader, qualities Will certainly showed: “I was really upset when we played in Frankfurt for the 15s championships; I did cry after the game because I feel like I have a strong connection with the team especially the German guys. I didn’t think when I started at the beginning of the season that I would I would end up so close to these guys, so I will feel really sad when I leave and I don’t want to leave.”
Another BFG-based player in the Under 18’s squad is Joshua Rudd. Joshua and Will agreed that playing for a German club has benefited more than just their rugby skill. Will said: “It has had a benefit to my German, I can say all the phrases, but obviously I’m not fluent, but I have learnt a lot about the German language and the culture, so it has been good.”
Joshua said: “I would encourage others to come down, it’s a different kind of experience because I have played football with a German team before, but when I have played rugby in Germany its always been with people from King’s School and always been within the British environment, so I would recommend it.”