Blood, sweat and mud is rubbed deep into the shorts, jersey and socks of the players — standing on the opposing sides of these beasts feels like facing a brick wall.
When two teams totaling 30 men of equal size and stature take the field, nothing else can be heard but the grunts and cracks when they collide — the men are fighting for a ball and a match on the pitch is 80 minutes of hell. It’s a brutal sport and one like no other — this is rugby.
“After a match it feels like you have been through about 15 full-on car crashes,” said Matt McKee, head coach of the Ramstein Rogues with more than 30 years of rugby experience.
The Rogues consists of host nation players, British Royal Air Force and U.S. military Soldiers and Airmen from the Kaiserslautern area.
After completing an undefeated 2011 season in the Division III German National Rugby-Bundesliga, the team will be moving up to Division II in the Southern conference this fall to compete against such cities as Frankfurt, Munich and Luxembourg City.
The team has players of all experience levels, several of the returning players were all-Army and all-Air Force members during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Practices take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the 435th Construction and Training Squadron rugby pitch and the team is still looking for players of any skill level for the upcoming season. Practices consist of warm-up drills, cardio, tackling drills, setting drills and basic form drills.
“This is a great turnout for a pre-season practice,” said Clive French, coach for the Rogues who will be leaving shortly. “It’s good to see some new faces.”
During practices, the coaches try to team up experienced players with those who have less experience as a way to help newer players build team dynamics, French said. The Rogues have an A team, B team and a women’s team, which will compete in different leagues this season.
McKee said there are always opportunities for growth throughout the season. Players on the B team will have the opportunity to move up if they continue to show improvement at practice.
“Teams are not picked based on talent alone and we try hard not to show any favoritism to any one player,” French said.
Last year, when it came down to the final game, the coaches told the players the A team was still not decided, which gave A-team players the drive to play harder and B-team players the chance to step up and play in a big match.
This is where the coaches and players have turned the Ramstein Rogues club into a family.
“Everyone gets along, hangs out together, holidays together,” French said.
He said home matches played at the Queidersbach Sportplatz are typically a great social event — families, friends and spouses can be seen hanging out together and barbecuing at the games.
For more information about playing or helping the team, email the Ramstein Rogues at email@example.com or find them on Facebook.