Germany strike causes chaos before Chile friendly

Berlin (AFP) –


German rugby has been thrown into chaos after the men's national team decided to go on strike before Saturday's match against Chile, forcing the German Rugby Union (DRV) to field a scratch team.

Germany play in the Rugby Europe Championship, the tier below the Six Nations, against the likes of Romania and Russia.

The senior squad's decision to go on strike on Tuesday has caused a major headache for the DRV ahead of the weekend's match in Offenbach, south-west Germany.

Former South African Sevens player Vuyo Zangqa, who coaches Germany's Sevens team, has been drafted in to quickly prepare a make-shift side for the international.

He has only two days to prepare a squad of national team sevens players, experienced club players and youngsters on the verge of the senior squad.

"The team won't come together for the first time until Thursday," said director of sport Manuel Wilhelm.

"The players are looking forward to the chance to represent Germany and will certainly do their best."

Germany are an ambitious rising force in European rugby and earlier this year hired ex-England forward Mouritz Botha as an advisor and forwards coach.

There are hopes a Pro 14 team could be set up in Germany and ex-England international Toby Flood has declared an interest in playing for the country of his ancestors.

The Germans have beaten Brazil and lost to the USA over the last fortnight during their own Autumn International series.

The national team strike stems from a disagreement between the DRV and their main benefactor, Stade Francais owner Dr Hans-Peter Wild, who has invested 30? million euros ($35.3m) over the last decade.

As a result of the falling out, Wild cut his funding to the DRV, which directly affected the senior squad's full-time training programme.

The players are furious and demanded the DRV resolve the issue to get their high-performance programme back on track.

"As a group, we have decided to make ourselves unavailable for Saturday?s upcoming game," captain Sean Armstrong said in a statement.

"We demand that the Union begin to take our situation seriously and affect changes which ensure that fifteens rugby has a future in this country.

"In order to do this, groundbreaking changes will need to occur within the Union."

The DRV are furious with those on strike.

"This decision, three days before an international match, is unacceptable in our view," fumed DRV president Klaus Blank.

"The reasoning is incomprehensible and in many places, simply wrong."

They are threatening consequences for the rebels.

"It may not be clear to one or two players what consequences this unfounded refusal could have," said CEO Volker Himmer.

The DRV now hopes their hastily called-up replacement squad will cope against an experienced Chile team.

"These young men enjoy our highest esteem that they were ready to step in at such short notice," added Wilhelm.