UCT’s Bodo Sieber wrapped up tightly by Georgian defenders in the Six Nations B match for Germany
While the Ikey Tigers are in the thick of Varsity Cup action one of UCT’s stalwarts, the ikey’s lock of over 150 first team matches Bodo “The Door” Sieber is away on international duty, playing for Germany in the Six Nations B against the likes of Georgia, Romania and Portugal.
Below are excerpts from an interview by totalrugby radio, the irb.com radioshow:
The build up to the RBS Six Nations kick-off may be stealing the limelight in Europe, but for Germany, Georgia, Portugal, Romania, Russia and Spain the quest to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2011 begins in earnest this weekend with the resumption of the European Nations Cup.
The opening two matches in Division 1 took place in November, Spain losing to Russia and then beating Germany in Madrid, but for Georgia, Portugal and Romania the campaign to secure one of two automatic berths in New Zealand starts now.
For Georgia, a veteran now of two Rugby World Cups, that means a trip to Heidelberg on Saturday to face Germany, who are back in the top division after an absence of over two decades.
For Germany’s Bodo Sieber the match takes on extra significance. Sieber was a member of his country’s Under 19 side that lost 5-3 to their Georgian counterparts in the IRB/FIRA Under 19 World Championship in Toulouse (where Ireland won with a youthful Brian o’Driscol and France played with the likes of David Skrela) to miss out on promotion to Division A.
What might have been …
“It’s not just the game we lost, it’s an opportunity that we lost, the make or break type games every player has in his career,” Sieber told Total Rugby.
“If we had actually beaten them next year the new generation of Under 19s would have played at a much higher level, and stayed there. That is what Georgia did and it was probably what changed things around for them.
“We are talking about a long way round to get back to them [Georgia]. This is basically where we would like to be, where Georgia is now. So what we want to do is earn respect in the division and keep earning the respect of the German Rugby viewing public, who have been great.”
Sieber and his team-mates know the size of the task awaiting them with the visit of reigning European Nations Cup champions but, while their opening 22-11 loss to Spain last year still rankles, it has also given them the belief that they can compete at this level.
“We are still a bit sore about that because, as has been reported, it was very close – much closer than the score might suggest and really we had them backs against the wall most of the second half.
David and Goliath
“All the talk now is we can be competitive in this league knowing that Spain managed to beat the likes of Georgia and Portugal at home. However Georgia is a different class to Spain, especially if they have all their stars available.
“Georgia are going to be a very well drilled side, they are all professionals playing in France. Their coach Tim Lane (Ed: who did some defensive sessions with the UCT 1st VX last season) was the Wallabies assistant coach when they won the World Cup so they have fantastic structures behind the team and remember they almost caused an upset in the World Cup against Ireland only going down 11:14.
“To be honest it’s a David and Goliath match. We are the underdog and what we want to do is just play with our hearts and with a lot of discipline, not give away silly turn-overs or make silly mistakes, make it hard for them to make points.”
With a crowd of around 10,000 people expected at the Fritz-Grunebaum-Sportpark for Germany’s first home match back in the top flight – often referred to as the Six Nations B – Sieber has his fingers crossed that his side can extend their impressive unbeaten home record that stretches back to November 2000.
“It is absolutely huge for us to be unbeaten for such a long time, although you have to consider the quality of opposition during those years,” added Sieber.
Staying up the priority for Germany
“We played the likes of Tunisia, Ukraine, Holland, Belgium, Moldowa or Poland – not quite in the league of Romania and Georgia, but we did beat Spain at home quite convincingly and just lost on aggregate the year they got promoted to the A Division and they managed to stay up.
“It is possible for us. Realistically what we are trying to do is just win two or three games in the two years and be better than the bottom side to stay up. We can’t expect to barge in and turn everything around, it is not going to happen.”
The drive to realise their goals and create the platform for the next generation of German players to compete in the top tier still burns brightly though and even if they fail to upset Georgia this weekend, they will be just as determined to beat Romania at home and Portugal away over the next two weekends.
Tim Lane’s Georgia, for the first time since the world cup had all their Top French professionals released by their clubs and featured a full strength team. Their front row and back-row in particular are absolute world class and top performers in the French Top 14.
Germany started strongly and got on the scoreboard first with a well worked try after 14 minutes. Georgia seemed a bit bewildered by the spirited defense of the home side and it took them a while to settle into the game. Germany kept defending hard, but Georgia started finding their rhythm and scored after 20 minutes to draw level. Germany’s flank saw a yellow card from the Scottish ref for offside in a ruck and with the hosts reduced to 14 men Georgia managed another try in the corner to make it 10:5, which was also the half-time score.
The second half started with a down-pour on the already wet fields and the home team, with their confidence high kept fighting hard. Georgia, who got good momentum through their powerful star No8 Mamuka Gorgodze, the ‘Gorgodzilla’, from French Top 14 Club Montpellier who had a world class showing, managed another try in the 57th minute.
The German crowd, where well impressed with their side who had kept the score at 5:10 and did have chances to put on more points of their own for almost 60 minutes. Then Georgia’s fresh legs off the bench, all top players in the French first and second division started doing some damage and the Eastern European’s ran away with a brace to make it 38:5 in the end.
Bodo Sieber says: “I was very proud of our performance – obviously the score could have been a bit better – a 28:12 was doable and we would have been well chuffed with that, but it was great to see that things are possible. All we need is a bit more support and improved structures and we can go out and compete.”
He added: “This Georgian side was seriously competitive, especially the pack, and I think their no8 and front row could play Super 14 any day. Having a guy like Toulon skipper and flank Gia Labadze on the bench speaks for the quality of players they have available.”
Germany’s next fixtures are Romania and Portugal on the 14th and 21st on Feb.
Here some Top14 scenes of Man of the Match Mamuka Gordoze of Montpellier – what a machine!