Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bumps, bruises and rugby with Dani Bachmann

From au-pair to rugby player Dani Bachmann has had an eventful decade living in Ireland. I was watching a men's game a few weeks ago when she was pointed out as 'someone you should talk to for that blog.' So here she is ... 

Dani with her team (back row, 3rd from right)

So for anyone wondering just how much contact is involved in a contact-sport like rugby, Dani’s injuries tell a good story – broken nose nine times, one black eye so nasty that passers-by on her university campus suggested she dump him now and bumps and bruises too many too count. She’s been playing for four years but says the damage “hasn’t stopped me.”

Having moved to Ireland as an au-pair from her home near Frankfurt in Germany, she initially continued playing the lacrosse she'd played at home. That’s not exactly a gentle game but far from the pressure of a scrum. “I was playing away, but it didn’t click with me. There was a bit missing,” she says. “A friend said to try rugby, as a joke really. I wasn’t sure but then decided to give it a go.”

This coincided with going to university as a mature student at University College Dublin. So with college as the traditional place to start something new, Dani signed up with the team. Lots of other ‘newbies’ around gave her the confidence to get out on the pitch, and with the encouragement of her coach she found herself taking part in her first game days after the first training session.

“Women’s teams are always short of people. So I spent 45 minutes running around, not knowing what I was doing, just following the ball really,” she says. “It was fantastic, and the team was brilliant to be with.”

Thinking about it now, she says the physicality (this is a word you hear a lot when rugby players talk sport) brings the players closer together than in other sports she’s played. With the ball moving at speed between the 15 players, and potentially serious injuries never more than a mis-step away, she says it’s not for everyone.

“I think that people would have an image of a women’s rugby player would be of a big girl and all that so that if you say you are a rugby player, you are openly admitting to be a bit of an outsider, to being a bit odd. So when you show up and meet the other 14 women who also love rugby and they think like you think, it’s brilliant.”
Dani (extreme left in blue stripes) looking for the  ball

She played with the college team for a year, and then switched to club team Blackrock about three years ago, where she togs out as second row backrow. On a year out from matches to complete a Masters in Human Rights, she’s already counting down to the pre-season training in July.

And she’s no stranger to local passions - now a staunch Leinster fan, Dani jokes that she only watches rivals Munster when they’re not playing her home team.

She says: “It’s hard to explain, but I just found the sport that suits me to a tee.” 

If you have any rugby questions, leave them here for Dani!


Anonymous said...

GREAT story! Thanks for posting.

niamh said...

@girlboxing - glad you liked it!