Most sports-mad boys aspire to grow up and play at international level but for Cyprus-based RAF Sergeant, Thomas Zuger, he made his dream come true this month by representing the country of his grandparent’s birth – Switzerland.
The 31-year old’s appearance off the bench in the 45th minute against the Ukraine in a 59-32 victory in a Rugby Europe match, came after Sgt Zuger answered an open call for overseas players which his father saw in a magazine back in the UK.
Explaining his path to the top, Sgt Zuger said: “I have played rugby since I was three years old and I have played at all levels through the Army but if I am being honest, when I was posted to Cyprus in October, I thought it was a retirement posting for the sport.
“After I arrived, I joined British Forces Cyprus team, Akrotiri Flamingos and I have loved playing for them and the social life has been great, so when my father sent me an advert in the Swiss Review, advertising for overseas players to attend training camps, I just went for it.”
Sgt Zuger’s eligibility for the Swiss team comes from his grandparents, who were both born in Schaffhausen and he admitted they were at the front of his mind when he stepped on the playing surface against the Ukraine.
He continued: “It was quite emotional to make my debut. I had my parents with me, my wife and my daughter was there too.
“It is always quite nerve-wracking to play but to represent your country was very emotional. I was very proud and I hope I would have made my grandparents proud too and to represent their home country is obviously very special.”
Now, with an international debut firmly under his belt, Sgt Zuger has his sights set firmly on making it a regular occurrence.
“We play Croatia on April 1 in Split and I will keep training and improving and be ready if the call comes,” he said. “I always just look forward to getting on the field, we have Croatia soon and then next year there is the possibility of promotion, with the end goal being getting the ranking up high enough to qualify for the World Cup.”