From The Vaults

03 May 2021
New book documenting the history of rugby in East Germany

In 1948, Erwin Thiesies, a former German national player, moved from Berlin to Hennigsdorf, an industrial city with a steelworks in the north of Berlin. He gathered schoolboys around him and introduced them to rugby. From this came the team of Stahl Hennigsdorf, who won the Championship of the GDR 27 times. Erwin Thiesies was employed by the steelworks and he remained coach of the steel-team, and later became coach of the GDR national team until his retirement.

From Hennigsdorf, rugby spread to the surrounding villages and towns of the Oberhavel region. There were other rugby centres in Leipzig since the 1920s, in Berlin and Potsdam.

This new publication, in German, by Henric Lewkowitz describes these developments through interviews with the personalities who introduced, promoted and developed rugby in the GDR. Interviews include:

Gerd Scharn, President of the GDR Rugby Association until 1990

Dieter Schmidt, President in the transitional period after 1990

Gerhard Schubert, record international player, referee and national coach in Leipzig

Bodo Hirsch, national player who fled to West Germany via Sweden

Peter Welsh, vice-president of the German Rugby Union in the west of Germany, who initiated the unification of the two German national Rugby Unions in East and West.

Jörg Rau, member of the board of the East German Rugby Union, who founded a rugby club in a small town

The book presents original documents, numerous photos of club teams as well as tables and statistics on sporting encounters at national and international level.

The CVs of Gerd Scharn (Berlin and Hennigsdorf), Detlef Krüger (National Coach, Potsdam ) and Erwin Thiesies (Hennigsdorf) conclude the book.

To purchase a copy please email [email protected]

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