In his time as head coach of the Canada and Samoa men's sevens teams, Damian McGrath enjoyed some notable highs. He was also assistant to Mike Friday when England enjoyed a period of success.
Well respected around the globe, McGrath led Samoa to victory in Paris in 2016 and then, a year later, he was in charge when Canada won their first-ever world series tournament in Singapore.
Now Germany are benefitting from his wisdom, and victory in the Chile round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, which moves on to Montevideo this weekend, suggests he is having a similarly positive impact despite only being in the post for four months.
“The system we use has changed and we work very hard on fitness,” said Germany captain Carlos Soteras Merz. “In preparation for this series, we spent time in Spain and then had a two-day camp playing games against Italy so that we would be as ready as we could be.”
Precision and pace
It paid off. Germany were a well-oiled machine in Viña del Mar and won the title after a 10-0 victory against Hong Kong in the final.
“We try to play a basic, high tempo game. Players have to be precise and play their role with responsibility as well as being able to play what they see. Each one of us did our job in Chile,” explained Soteras Merz, a member of the German military.
On Saturday, at the Estadio Charrúa in Montevideo, Germany will spearhead Pool A, with Papua New Guinea, Mexico and hosts Uruguay providing the opposition.
Beaten finalists Hong Kong will tackle Uganda, Jamaica and Brazil in Pool B, with Japan, Zimbabwe, Italy and Paraguay competing in Pool C. In Pool D, Chile, Tonga, Portugal and Colombia will be vying to make the quarter-finals.
“We want to go as far as we can,” said Soteras Merz, a regular in the team since 2012.
“The win in Chile made us very happy, but we have to ensure that we start again and take it step by step, game by game. If we play to our strengths, we will be successful.
“This Series is very good because it allows us to play back-to-back tournaments and it is important for us, as a team, to be able to perform over two weekends at the highest level.”
The new and exciting HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series was developed to boost sevens’ growth across the globe, focusing on the development of the next generation of sevens stars via emerging sevens nations.
The competition also acts as the new promotion and relegation system for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The men’s series features 13 core teams from the six World Rugby regions who compete over two rounds alongside three invitational teams.
The top eight core teams after the two rounds will then compete in the final play-off tournament for a spot in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, replacing the bottom placed core team in the World Series in the following season.
World Rugby is currently examining all options in relation to hosting a third and final round of the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, which was due to be held in Hong Kong in April, taking into consideration the dynamic and ongoing situation regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and already full Olympic Sevens calendar year. Further updates will be issued at a later stage.