This summer, four EUR sports teams will be competing in the European Universities Games, that will be held in Cordoba, Spain.  EM asked one of the members of the rugby team about his hopes and fears for the tournament.

John Wilken, a 24-year-old Master student from Germany, has been playing rugby in Rotterdam for four years now. Last year, his team won the GNSK (Grote Nederlandse Studenten Kampioenschap), that qualified them to go to Spain this summer. Besides the rugby team, the men’s futsal team, the men’s table tennis team and the women’s beach volleyball team will also be representing the Erasmus University in Cordoba. The rugby team also won this year’s GNSK,  which guarantees them a spot in next year’s European Universities Games in Budapest.

Finally a sponsor

It’s the first time John’s team is going to an international championship, even though they were qualified to go in previous years. The lack of funding restrained them, but this year, Erasmus Sport stepped in and helped out to finance their stay in Cordoba.

So what are their chances of winning? John thinks it’s hard to say, as they don’t exactly know which teams are going, and what their pool is going to look like. He expects the teams from real ‘rugby countries’, such as the UK and France, to be a lot stronger than their own team. He can’t wait to see some decent rugby, and looks upon the tournament as a challenge, as well as an opportunity for his team to prepare for next year’s tournament.

‘Rugby is for everyone’

The rugby club has four teams: one ‘young dog’ team, for inexperienced players, two student teams and one team for the older players, called the ‘old bears’. John thinks that, contrasting to what many people think, rugby is a sport for everyone: “We have many different levels within our club, so you can join without any experience at all.”

Rugby seems to be quite an international form of exercise, as John’s team is composed of students from twelve different nationalities, and their coach is French. Even though rugby is often seen as a men-only sport, but John wishes they had a girls’ team as well. However, not many girls seem to want to join a rugby team, which makes it hard to form a group that is large enough to practice with. If girls (or guys) are interested in joining the club and want to know more, check out the website.

No rugby in 2014?

In 2014, the Universities Games will be held in Rotterdam, which is something John looks forward to. However, rugby is not yet part of the programme. John: “We’re fighting for the inclusion of rugby, as it is one of the largest student sports worldwide. We have the facilities here, so I think it should definitely be included.” IS