“The first few training sessions, I just watched to see where we could start from and it was pretty much the bottom,” said Felts, who is also head coach of another Berlin rugby team.
“Some had never played the game before, but the benefit of that is they have no bad habits,” he added.
Despite Berlin’s sub-zero temperatures and regular bouts of heavy snow during winter, the Bruisers train in all weathers.
“We’ve trained when it’s been minus-eight or minus-nine. I told the guys I’d be there and a bunch of them showed up even when it was really cold,” Felts said. “We couldn’t put in any contact, a few of them were sliding around on the ice, but having a great time.”
Poignantly, the Bruisers train in Tiergarten just a few meters from the memorial to homosexuals persecuted and murdered under Nazi rule from 1933 to 1945.
“I feel that’s true Berlin fashion. The Germans don’t shy away from their World War II past, they don’t hide anything and they are trying to make amends. It’s now about moving forward,” Felts said.