Berliner Tageblatt - Chile's trailblazer Sigren splitting Yorkshire loyalties with England match-up

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Chile's trailblazer Sigren splitting Yorkshire loyalties with England match-up
Chile's trailblazer Sigren splitting Yorkshire loyalties with England match-up / Foto: © AFP/File

Chile's trailblazer Sigren splitting Yorkshire loyalties with England match-up

Chile are making history by appearing at their first Rugby World Cup but their captain Martin Sigren was a pioneer for the South American country long before their opening defeat to Japan.


Last season, 27-year-old Sigren became the first Chilean player to feature for an English club when the flanker joined second-tier side Doncaster Knights on a one-year deal.

On Saturday, the back-rower faces his adopted country in Chile's third game in the tournament, looking for their first win after they also lost to Samoa.

"He came to us through an agent who works with players from emerging nations," the Knights' director of rugby Steve Boden told AFP.

"We had a host of injuries at the time. We had a look at Martin.

"We had a couple of Zoom conversations about who he was as a person, first and foremost, then what he wanted to get out of his rugby.

"It seemed like a good fit at the time, so we moved forward and brought him over," Boden added.

Sigren headed to the Championship outfit after a few seasons with Santiago's recently formed professional franchise Selknam.

They finished second in Super Rugby Americas in 2022 before he moved 11,000km (6,210 miles) to Yorkshire.

"When we looked at him, there were areas of his game that needed work, like skill and game understanding," Boden said.

"We knew he was a good lineout forward and was pretty abrasive.

"The competition is probably behind the Championship in regards to game understanding, creativity, set-piece and a bit slower but I would say the physicality of the league was on a par.

"He fitted in well in that respect," he added.

- 'Cherry on the cake' -

At Castle Park, Sigren settled in quickly, helped by the fact he had spent time in an English-speaking school in the Chilean capital.

"The Yorkshire accent is quite difficult, maybe there was a bit of a language barrier but he picked it up very quickly to be fair to him," the Knights' former Wales U20s fly-half Billy McBryde told AFP.

"Me and him had a good relationship together where he'd teach a little bit of Spanish and I'd teach him a little bit of Welsh.

"We carried on doing that every day in every training session until the end of the season, which was very nice," he added.

Sigren left Boden's team at the conclusion of the campaign to prepare for his country’s maiden World Cup appearance.

The Knights started their new season on September 8, two days before Chile's defeat to Japan in their World Cup bow.

"There was an option for him to stay," Boden said.

"There were as good options out there who were UK-based who weren't going to the World Cup.

Martin would be missing for pre-season. We only have a 32-man squad; it would put a lot of pressure on a lot of other people through pre-season.

"It was a really amicable exit for him," he added.

Sigren starts as blindside flanker for Los Condores this weekend, and will face the likes of back-rower Billy Vunipola and Lewis Ludlam, both members of the England squad who were World Cup runners-up in 2019.

"There will be a little bit of split loyalties this weekend," Boden said.

"I'm an Englishman but an England win and a great Chile performance would put the icing on the cake.

"And Martin as man of the match definitely, that would be perfect.

"We wish him all the success apart from a win," he added.