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Ryan Godsmark: 'Big dream is to go to the World Cup' with Belgium

By Liam Heagney
Ryan Godsmark talks to RugbyPass following last Sunday's win for Belgium

There is so much to admire about the commitment of players on the tier-two rugby circuit. Take Ryan Godsmark, the Brussels-based school PE teacher from Scotland. It was last April in Stellenbosch when RugbyPass first shot the breeze with scrum-half.

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The Belgium men’s sevens team had just beaten Tonga in the final of the second leg of the Challenger Series and were royally celebrating the achievement. With a boom box pumping out the tunes in their Markotter dressing room, a multitude of selfies were being taken with the trophy.

Godsmark, his jersey off and a towel around his waist while preparing to get ready for the commute back to Cape Town and an unexpected night of celebration, explained the sacrifice involved in representing his adopted country in South Africa.

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“I took two weeks’ holidays, I’m not paid to be here. All these other guys are not paid to be here, they lose money, but it is all about the experience,” he enthused.

Fast forward 11 months and the work leave sacrifice wasn’t as onerous when RugbyPass touched base again with Godsmark in France.

Just two days off from the British School in Brussels were all that was needed for him to chip in with preparations ahead of last Sunday’s Rugby Europe Championship seventh-place play-off versus Poland in Paris.

Since we had last spoken, the soon-to-be 32-year-old, who qualifies for Belgium under residency, had played for the Brussels Devils in the Europe Super Cup and while he missed the Belgians’ headline-grabbing Rugby Europe Championship pool upset against Portugal, he was glad to have just played his part off the bench in their 34-8 play-off win over the Poles.

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“It confirms that we were obviously playing well,” he reckoned in the aftermath. “We had a bit of a miss game against Germany [they lost 11-21 at Waterloo on March 2] and the fact of finishing seventh place only losing two of the five games is really good. The boys are really happy. Everyone has worked really hard. It has been five weeks of hard work, so it’s good.”

The improvement brought about by having Laurent Dossat now at the helm has fired up the ambition of Godsmark and co. The Rugby World Cup is expanding from 20 to 24 teams for Australia 2027 and the Belgians want a piece of the action.

“Everything we have done has been a step forward. The big dream is to go to the World Cup, so we have put ourselves in a good position for that and that’s the big picture. To lose against Germany but then to finish it with a win, it’s a positive picture.

“The more time we get to work with each other the better. It’s the same story we had in Stellenbosch – some guys are pro, some aren’t. We have only got a short time to work together so we go into camp, we have got four, five days and then it’s game time. If we can be productive in that time it obviously shows.

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“At the end of these five weeks, there is a massive difference in terms of organisation, in terms of how we want to play and over the long term that can be even better if we get the time together, if we get more camps then it makes a difference.

“There is a better organisation than we have had the previous years, so it’s just working on that, having camps together, training together and having good preparation. Again, it was a much better preparation this year than the previous years and then we have also got guys being able to be free from their clubs in France.

“There are still guys who haven’t been released from their clubs so that’s another thing, getting everyone released and being able to play would make a massive difference. Just training time together helps a lot.”

Godsmark did his bit to ensure success at Stade Jean Bouin. “I’m still a teacher, same story as last time. I had to take a few days off, had to take Thursday, Friday off.

“I had to ask the boss and he gave me it. That’s another story. They [the British School in Brussels] are good with me with the rugby, they give me some time off and I can go away. | just then have to make up for it later on down the line. It’s a bit of a sacrifice but it works well.

“They post it on their Twitter, on their Instagram, things like that so it’s good for them, it’s good for the students that I teach as well, they ask how it’s going with the rugby, they look on social media. I’m a PE teacher so it looks good for the kids.”

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1 Comment
M
Michael 115 days ago

Great story. Rugby needs new investment in teams like Brussels another pro league in Europe would be great.

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