Q. Who are the Berlin Bruisers?
A. The Berlin Bruisers are a group of more than 50 Berliners of all nationalities, creeds, colours and sexual persuasions who have come together to play and support rugby. We are Germany’s first gay and inclusive rugby team and are proud to have spawned a ‘sister’ team in Cologne – the Cologne Crushers and one in Munich – The Munich Monks. We are proud of who we are and what we do!
Q. Do I have to be gay to join?
A. No. The Bruisers are inclusive and non-judgmental. We have what we like a call a “Don’t ask, Please tell” approach to sexuality – we welcome people of any persuasion to come and join us and you are by all means encouraged to share your many stories, but it’s not a must! We are an inclusive team that has its roots firmly in the LGBT+ community but welcomes anyone who shares our values to join!
Q. Will I meet lots of hot men?
A. Well, that’s a matter of taste, but we need to stress we are not a dating agency! Our focus is on sport and playing rugby. We have a “don’t screw the crew” policy where sex between members is discouraged, especially if it brings emotional baggage onto the pitch! We are here to play rugby…. not with each other!
Q. Are you an official registered Club (Verein)?
A. Yes, we are officially recognized by the City of Berlin and are members of the BSC Berlin Sports Club and affiliated bodies. You also will, therefore, have some rudimentary insurance through the team.
Training and Playing
Q. How often, and where and when do you train?
A. During the season we have League Team Training twice a week. We encourage players to join the training as often as possible – rugby is built on teamwork, so if you don’t turn up you’re letting your teammates down! We also offer our Rugby for Every Body for the ones that never tried rugby before and wants to have a taste of Rugby before deciding if joining the League Team, or for the people that want to train with us without the commitment to the more demanding League Trainings.
Thanks to our other great pals at American Fitness we sometimes have the opportunity to host fitness & strength sessions there using the finest equipment and trainers.
Please check the Calendar for specific details on locations and training times.
Q. Which training group is for me?
A. Please check “Join the Team” section and fill out the form. Someone will be in touch and can discuss with you the best way to get involved.
Q. Do I have to pay to go into American Fitness?
A. American Fitness is one of our very generous partners, and once you are a registered Berlin Bruiser member with a yearly subscription you will be allowed free entrance to the facilities there.
Q. Do I need anything special to come along to train?
A. Trainers, shorts and a strong T-shirt are a good start, but really anything you feel comfortable in and which you don’t mind getting dirty or ripped! If you have boots with studs, all the better! It’s a rough environment we can’t guarantee your favourite shirt will survive the onslaught. Please avoid hooded tops, denim or anything with large zips / buttons / bits of metal sticking out. You are advised to tape up any piercings you may have (or take them out) to avoid them getting caught on another player… OUCH ! It’s a contact sport so avoid anything that could be potentially injurious!
Q. I have never played rugby before, does it matter?
A. Not at all! Of the players we have right now, only a small number had ever touched a rugby ball before they started with us! We will give you full training as a beginner to help you acquire the catching, kicking and running skills required!
Q. I’m not very beefy, can I still play?
A. Yes, of course! Rugby is a totally brilliant game in that it requires so many different skills. We need fast people, strong people, small people and large people. Height is good in some positions, and being small and nippy useful in others! Most of the team are of average stature and fitness levels, our aim is to make all the Bruisers fitter and to have more stamina, and of course to train ourselves to be a useful team playing to all of our individual strengths!
Q. Who do you play against?
A. The Berlin Bruisers are part of the “Regionalliga Nordost”, Germany’s third tier rugby union league, and during the season play matches September – November and March – June. Aside from that we play friendlies against other straight and gay teams around Europe and the world and are regular participants in inclusive rugby tournaments, such as the Bingham Cup, Union Cup and the Thebans Rugby Clinic in Edinburgh, and of course our very own tournament “The Berlin Bruisers BashAbout”.
If you cant commit to training and playing regularly, for whatever reason, there is a still a place for you with the Bruisers – the Bruisers Rugby for Every Body!
Q. So what is the Bruisers Rugby for Every Body?
A. This training is designed for social players and newer members who are still finding their feet. It’s a fun, social training and perfect for those who don’t want to train every week of the year and for those who are rugby curious. We have lots of laughs but still pack in some proper rugby.
Q. How are the teams picked?
A. The match-day team is picked by our Head Coach and Captain, who will consider ability, commitment and what is needed to complete a full line-up of 15 players. It is our view that if someone comes every weekend and attends a lot of the fundraisers, they deserve to play more frequently that someone who only shows up sporadically. Rugby is first and foremost a team game and if you don’t come regularly to training, you won’t be a good member of that team!
Q. Are there any restrictions?
A. To play in the league team you need to be over 18 and identify as male. Of course no restrictions applies for the Rugy for Every Body. We will update the requirements for the womens team as that comes into fruition, but is likely to mirror that of the league team. You also need to have a basic level of fitness and must declare any long-lasting illnesses. N.B. World Rugby is currently reviewing its policy on transexual and transgendered players. We will follow any guidelines issued following the review and as implemented by the DRV (Deutsche Rugby-Verband). However we will always lobby for all players to play under the gender they identify with.
Q. What about HIV?
A. In line with the guidelines of World Rugby, you don’t have to declare an HIV status – it is up to you. We work on the assumption that anyone and everyone might be HIV+. There are very strict rules in contact sports about blood and open wounds, and people must leave the pitch as soon as any blood is evident and can only return once the wound has been cleaned and treated.
Q. How do you deal with injuries?
A. We have trained first-aiders in the team, and an ongoing relationship with the Red Cross who provide training courses specifically for sporting injuries for us.
Q. Is rugby dangerous?
A. Short answer: yes, it can be! It is a full body contact sport, and injuries are not uncommon. However, we do everything we can to train you to play safe rugby and to give you the tools to minimize the likelihood of damage.
Q. What language do you train in?
A. English is the main language we work in, but we have members from over 20 different nationalities, and so there is likely to be someone who can translate if you are not comfortable in English.
Q. Do I have to play to join?
A. No, we also have an amazing supporters group who are happy to help us out, and to help organize the various activities we host or are organizing. The Berlin Bruisers is already a mighty organization and we need skills from all outside walks of like to help us off the pitch and well as “on”! Whatever your talent we will find an outlet for you to display it for the benefit of the team! Please see the ‘Supporter Application Form’.
Q. How do I get started?
A. Visit the “Join The Team” section on this website – there you will find a contact form which you fill out, and someone will get back to you to ask you more details and to advise when would be best for you to come to the training.
Q. What if I need more information or details?
A. Both our Facebook page and our website will answer a lot of your questions. If you need more – drop us a line!
Q. Can I talk to someone about my own personal situation or needs?
A. We welcome any questions – please write to us on the website or make a post on the Facebook page with your query and someone will get right back to you in a private message. If you need we can exchange phone numbers and you can talk direct to one of us with your questions and/or fears. We are super-friendly and enjoy talking about rugby anyway!
Q. How much does it cost to be a Berlin Bruiser? A. We want to make rugby accessible for everybody, therefore we have a “pay what you can afford” policy! Standard Berlin Bruiser membership costs €25 per year. This allows you to train with us in the Rugby for Every Body and allows access to to American Fitness. If you join the league trainings / team then you will also need to pay a separate subrscription to cover pitch, training and clubhouse facilities. Please contact us to get more information about the current cost. If money is tight then please talk to our Treasurer and he will make sure that you are not stretched too far – or even train for free (as long as you join in the fundraising initiatives etc.). We want people to play rugby – that is the point!
Q. When do I need to sign up?
A. After we’ve seen you 3 or 4 times at training we will ask how you are feeling, and if you would like to join the team. You are not insured with us until you have signed up and you won’t be able to play matches, use the gym etc. so it is something we recommend as soon as you are ready!
Q. How do I sign up?
A. After we’ve seen you at training we will ask how you are feeling, and if you would like to join us. To do so, here is the form you need to fill out:
in English: Membership-Form-English
auf Deutsch: Mitgliedschaftsformular-Deutsch
What is a Bruiser?
Q. What does being a Berlin Bruiser mean?
A. As you might imagine it’s a lot more than just playing rugby! We are committed to promoting equality and fighting injustice from our vantage point of being a sports team. Our loyalty is to our team members and we are there for each other, both on and off the pitch.
Q. How do you fight injustice?
A. By our own personal behavior of standing up for the oppressed, but also by actively supporting the “Ben Cohen Foundation” (www.standupfoundation.com) which was set up by Ben, an international rugby player, to eradicate homophobia in sport and bullying in all it’s forms wherever it may occur.
Q. So how do you go about preventing bullying as a rugby team?
A. We have developed an outreach program for schools in Berlin called ‘Challenging Stereotypes’ that shows kids of 12-14 years old through ruby and conversation that aggression needs to be channelled positively to be effective. Rugby is the perfect metaphor for people of all shapes and sizes to work together to constructively achieve a common goal. We are very proud this has been picked up by other clubs worldwide and we have developed an open pack for them to use in their communities. We hope to extend this program to more schools in Berlin and Germany throughout 2017/18.
Our open trainings on Sundays are also a perfect forum for any age, gender or sexuality to come to and see that in team sport you need to work together to be effective. No one is excluded and it is always great fun! It is also a great ‘shop window’ as we often get asked questions about what we are doing by the passing public!