Making the step up to the men’s Rugby Europe Championship in 2023 was a big test for Germany, but Felix Lammers believes the experience the squad gained can help them as they head into this year’s tournament.
After jumping up from the Trophy and losing to eventual winners Georgia, Spain and Netherlands in the pool stage last time out, Germany rallied to win away from home in Poland in the play-offs of the Championship.
In that game in Gdynia last March, the visitors took an early lead when full-back Edoardo Stella kicked a penalty.
Siokivaha Taufui Halaifuana, the Poland back-row, scored the first try of the game and stand-off Wojciech Piotrowicz converted.
In the 25th minute Germany scored a cracking try to go ahead.
Some good carries and then a lovely chip through by stand-off Raynor Parkinson saw centre Leo Wolf score, Stella converting.
A penalty by Piotrowicz made it 10-10 early in the second half and when he slotted another Poland were 13-10 up.
In the 57th minute Stella’s three pointer made it 13-13 and he then kicked another.
Sebastian Rodwell, the centre, then scored a try with Stella converting and suddenly Germany were 23-13 up with 12 minutes to go.
Late on a great cross field kick from the Polish stand-off set up winger Robert Wojtowicz for a try, but Germany, with a man in the sin bin at that point, held on for the victory.
Germany would then go onto lose to Netherlands on their home turf in Amsterdam which meant a sixth-place finish overall, but there were plenty of positives - and learnings - to take from the experience.
They start this year with a big home game against Georgia in the Paul Greifzu Stadion in Dessau on Saturday and Lammers, the 27-year-old winger, said: “I can’t wait to be back in this competition.
“The Rugby Europe Championship is the one of the highlights of the season and it’s always great to compete at this level.
“Last year’s campaign wasn’t easy for us. The players and staff showed some incredible character and that has got us into a good position to achieve our goals this year. The union has worked hard to improve our preparation and the team is looking good.
“We want to stay in this competition and to achieve that we have to win games. So, we will take things game by game and we believe the results will follow.
“I have been playing for Germany since 2019 and, more recently, I have been vice-captain.
“Singing the national anthem before a Test is a feeling you can’t describe. There’s nothing bigger than representing your country while you are playing the sport that you love.”
On March 17, the Rugby Europe Championship Finals will be held at the home of Stade Français at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris.
All eight teams will be involved in a real festival of rugby and Lammers added: “It’s going to be a massive event and we’re really looking forward to it.
“I think this type of finals day takes the competition to the next level.”
GERMANY v GEORGIA game will be live broadcast on Pro Sieben Maxx from 14.30 CET
By Gary HEATLY