POPULAR rugby identity Murray Archibald is stunned by the potential he's discovered in his first year as head coach of Wild Rugby Academy in Germany.
Back in Coffs Harbour to visit family for Christmas while escaping the European winter, the one-time North Coast development chief has discovered a country busting for a return to former glories.
“A century ago, Germany was one of the strongholds of the game and actually shared the silver medal with Great Britain at the Paris Olympics in 1900,” he said.
“Rugby went into decline because of the two World Wars and the dominance of soccer in Europe but there's been a boom in the last decade and the game in really leaping ahead.
“There's some shyness because of history and as soon as that is overcome, the nation will eventually return to its place in international rugby, thanks to the enormous bank of talented players at our disposal.
“Our ultimate goal is to participate in the World Cup by 2015.”
The Academy was established in May 2007 by billionaire industrialist and rugby tragic, Dr Hans Peter Wild, and Archibald was head-hunted for his role at the beginning of this year.
He's since been appointed coach of the Deutschland Under 19 team, consults with the Deutsch Rugby Verband (DRV) senior national competition and forged strong links in South Africa with the Sharks Super 14 outfit.
Based in Heidelberg, the Academy commenced operations one year ago by entering the Wild Titans into the national Under 19 and 21 Bundesliga competitions where they are currently running second.
A major recruitment campaign in schools near the Academy and the catchment area around Frankfurt and Heusenstamm has provided the raw material for a massive expansion in operations from February 2009.
“The big news is we've been invited to participate in the Hong Kong Rugby 10's tournament next March which has everybody very excited,” Archibald said.
“I have played and coached at the 10s and the event is wonderful, the quality of the teams is super.
“I'm confident the Wild Titans will be competitive and make people aware that rugby is gaining momentum in Deutschland.
“Also, it will give us a chance to promote our own Wild Rugby Academy 10s tournament to be held in Heidelberg next May.”
Before leaving the Coffs Coast yesterday, Archibald said he will make a brief stopover in Hong Kong to check on 10s tournament progress before returning to his base for the re-commencement of the season.
“We'll be underway again by mid-January which will be a shock, coming out of an Aussie summer into the middle of a typical footy winter,” he added.