Global Game? Germany Are Twenty Years Behind

The Rugby Paper|May 10, 2020

Global Game? Germany Are Twenty Years Behind
During the decidedly uncivil English war over control of the nascent professional game, Cliff Brittle had a dream which sounds as impossible today as it did then.
Peter Jackson

From his bunker at Twickenham, the RFU’s embattled chairman outlined his vision of a new rugby empire with a sentence which might have had Sir Winston Churchill turning in his grave: “What we need is a strong Germany.’’

Whether he said so before or after his dust-up at The Navy Club with Sir John Hall has been lost in the mists of time. Brittle saw Hall as the arch-enemy whose like would undermine the supreme status of the international game by making the clubs too popular and therefore too powerful.

So Brittle saw ‘a strong Germany’ as a bulwark against those beastly clubs who just happened to employ all the international players. Perhaps his imagination stretched to England playing a Test in Nuremberg before the largest crowd gathered there since Hitler was in town for one of his rallies.

The notion of Germany ever being good enough to give Italy a game, never mind England, France, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales sounds every bit as far-fetched today as it did when Brittle floated the idea circa 1996.

There is almost more chance of the Russians bowling up to Lord’s for a five day Test or the Americans picking Mr. Trump for the Ryder Cup.

Brittle, who died nine years ago at the age of 69, recognized rugby’s need to broaden its boundaries. A self-made millionaire, he was espousing the global game long before the phrase became a cliché.


You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD

Log in, if you are already a subscriber


Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories and 5,000+ magazines


May 10, 2020