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Rugby players Brian Openshaw of England, left, and 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment soldier Pvt. Walter Lilly, 20, of Belvidere, N.J., enjoyed a beer at Haus Ruckinger after a rugby practice.

Rugby players Brian Openshaw of England, left, and 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment soldier Pvt. Walter Lilly, 20, of Belvidere, N.J., enjoyed a beer at Haus Ruckinger after a rugby practice. (Seth Robson / S&S)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Rugby and beer are both on the menu at Haus Ruckinger — a suburban Nuremberg restaurant/bar that serves as a clubhouse for the TSV 1846 Nuremberg rugby team.

Drop into the bar on Monday or Wednesday nights and you will find yourself in the company of rugby players from Nuremberg’s men’s and women’s teams enjoying a quiet beer after training.

Every other Saturday the lush, green sports fields outside the bar host rugby games. In spring and fall Nuremberg plays in the Bavarian League, which includes two U.S. military teams — Illesheim and Vilseck, along with Regensberg, which has several Hohenfels-based U.S. soldiers on its roster.

The club also hosts the Nuremberg 10s rugby tournament at the end of May, which draws teams from all over Europe for a weekend of rugby and beer drinking that coincides with nearby Erlangen Beer Festival.

Haus Ruckinger owner Hermann Hausruckinger said he’d been a cook for 22 years and opened the bar five years ago. He encouraged Americans to drop in for a beer or some “spicy food.”

The bar has a good selection of pasta and meat dishes. On game days, the rugby team sells baked goods on the sideline to hungry spectators.

At Haus Ruckinger most drinkers speak English but you are likely to hear a smattering of different languages at the bar. The team includes players of 18 nationalities including U.S., English, German, French, South African, New Zealand and Russian.

“This is my first training for a year,” said Ben Wheeler, an Englishman who plays lock for Nuremberg, as he sat outside the bar holding an ice pack on a swollen ankle after practice on Wednesday night.

Wheeler has his own bar, Wheelers in Erlangen, where the team gets together to watch professional and international rugby games on a big screen television.

One muddy U.S. soldier, 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment soldier Pvt. Walter Lilly, 20, of Belvidere, N.J., was enjoying a quiet beer with the Englishmen who he’d tackled a few minutes earlier out on the field.

“I came here to play last month and other than this, that’s the only time I’ve been to Nuremberg,” he added.

Click here for previous After Hours reviews.

Haus Ruckinger

Prices: Hefeweizen (0.5 liter) – 2.50 euros; tap beer (0.4 liter) – 2.40 euros; white wine – 3 to 4 euros-a-glass; cocktails – 5.50 to 7 euros.

Specialties: Spaghetti Aglio (5.80 euros); Schweinekotelett mit mediterranem Gemüse (pork) - (7.50 Euros).

English menu: No

Dress: Casual

Clientele: Rugby players

Location: Weissenseestrasse, Erlensten, Nuremberg — about an hour’s drive from Grafenwöhr or Vilseck.

From Grafenwöhr: Take the B470 to the A9 Autobahn. Take the A3 toward Würzburg for 5km and get off at exit 86 (Nuremberg, Behringersdorf, Lauf). Follow the B14 toward Nuremberg, go under a bridge as you enter Erlenstegen and turn right into Gunthersbuhlerstrasse, then right again into Weissenseestrasse.

From Vilseck: Drive to Sorghof and follow the road toward Amberg for 8.5km. Take the B85 for another 12km and then turn right and follow the B14 for 32km. Then get on the A9 Autobahn and follow that to the A3. Take the A3 toward Würzburg for 5km and get off at exit 86 (Nuremberg, Behringersdorf, Lauf). Follow the B14 toward Nuremberg, go under a bridge as you enter Erlenstegen and turn right into Gunthersbuhlerstrasse, then right again into Weissenseestrasse.

Web site: None

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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