‘I am probably the only one left’

The German men's rugby sevens team is gunning for a top-four finish in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series taking place this weekend in Munich. This performance is crucial to qualifying for the promotion and relegation competition in the SVNS Grand Final in Madrid.

Germany's history in this series has been marked by near misses. In 2018, they led Japan 14-12 as time expired, but conceded a last-minute effort, losing 19-14. In 2017, Spain beat them 12-7 in the qualifying final. The following year, Ireland defeated Germany 19-10 in the semi-finals and secured last place.

Germany won the first leg of the Challenger Series in Chile in 2020 but only reached the quarter-finals in Uruguay – where they finished third overall – while Japan qualified. The cancellation of the 2021 series due to the pandemic halted their efforts and then the disappointment returned in 2022 when Uruguay defeated them 19-15 in the semi-finals.

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Charlotte Caslake speaks to the media after the women's final Perth SVNS

Germany this weekend is in a different situation.

The hosts are determined to end the string of near-misses. Hosting the final tournament in Munich provides a home advantage and the team is focused on breaking the cycle of grief and securing a place at HSBC SVNS 2025.

“We had this generation that went through all these qualifiers but we never made it to the World Series,” Clemens von Grumbkow told Jack Zurab on the World Rugby website this week. He added: “The last chance for this generation was in 2022. Maybe we were the best team that year, but I think so.” [previous failures] Did chase them quite a bit. In pressure situations, they kind of froze and didn't play as well as they could have.

“As a coaching staff, we probably put too much on them saying ‘let’s not miss the chance again’ and they didn’t play as freely as they could have.

“I'm probably the only one left of this crew and we try not to think about those days, we're young and we try to play the best rugby we can.”

Others who carry the same baggage as von Grumbko are players John Dow, Niklas Koch and Tim Lichtenberg. Everyone else brings a clean slate to the team mentality.

“We are aware of our potential and the opportunities available to us,” von Grumbkow added. “We are not a free-flowing team like France or Fiji. We have a good structural base, good skills, and we work hard. We want our defense to be our identity card, and then to be physical in attack.”


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