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Rugby union in the Netherlands

Rugby union in the Netherlands is a minor but growing sport.[citation needed]. The sport is governed by the Dutch Rugby Union, which organizes the Netherlands national rugby union team.

Rugby union in the Netherlands
Governing bodyDutch Rugby Union
National team(s)Netherlands
First played1879
Registered players15000 [1]
National competitions
Club competitions

Governing bodyEdit

The Dutch Rugby Federation was founded on September 7, 1920 but ceased to exist in 1923 due to a lack of clubs. They reorganized on October 1, 1932, as Dutch Rugby Union (Dutch: "Nederlandse Rugby Bond"), only six months after the Netherlands national rugby union team played their first match against Belgium.[2] The union is affiliated to the IRB in 1988 [3] and has 15,000 registered players (in 2017).[1]


Koninklijke HFC was the first Dutch rugby club in 1879, but switched to association football in 1883.

The first rugby club was HFC, established on September 15, 1879 by the 14-year-old Pim Mulier, who first encountered the sport in 1870. However HFC switched to association football in 1883. The Delftsche Studenten Rugby - Club (DSR-C) was the first official rugby club on September 24, 1918.

Dutch rugby started setting down roots in the pre-World War II period. The subsequent German occupation and World War II disrupted its growth, and it took years for the Dutch game to return to its pre-war state. Then in the post-war years, the massive growth and stifling influence of Dutch association football on other sports also hindered further development.

The first Dutch international was in 1932, against Belgium.

Nonetheless, the Netherlands' proximity to the European rugby heartland of the British Isles and France, has ensured a fairly healthy stream of touring sides from these areas. Given the low profile of the game in the Netherlands, Dutch rugby still manages to support over a hundred clubs, and has 7-8,000 players, which is a larger number than some Rugby World Cup entrants.[3]

Women's rugby in the Netherlands started at Rugbyclub Wageningen in 1975. At their first 5-year anniversary the Wageningen rugby men organised a rugby match for the girl friends against the girl friends of the befriended Eindhoven Students rugby team The Elephants. The Wageningen women won this game with 4-0 and the seed for Dutch women rugby was planted. It took until 1981 when the first official women rugby competition round was played.

In the 1978-79 season, the Dutch leagues were affected by a severe winter, which prevented teams playing on grass rugby pitches.[4] The season managed to finish on time, mainly because the matches were transferred onto beaches to avoid snow and ice.[4]

Dutch rugby received a boost in 1996, when they beat a full strength team from Moseley RFC.[3]

Notable Dutch playersEdit

See alsoEdit


  • Cotton, Fran (Ed.) (1984) The Book of Rugby Disasters & Bizarre Records. Compiled by Chris Rhys. London. Century Publishing. ISBN 0-7126-0911-3
  • McLaren, Bill A Visit to Hong Kong in Starmer-Smith, Nigel & Robertson, Ian (eds) The Whitbread Rugby World '90 (Lennard Books, 1989)
  • Richards, Huw A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, ISBN 978-1-84596-255-5)
  1. ^ a b "Rugby Nederland bereikt een belangrijke mijlpaal, met verwelkoming van 15.000ste lid | Rugby Nederland".
  2. ^ (in Dutch)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1) p67
  4. ^ a b Cotton, p21
  5. ^ (in Dutch)
  6. ^ (in Dutch) Bierman blijft ook in rolstoel zeer betrokken bij de sport (De Volkskrant) Gepubliceerd op 16 april 1998 00:00, bijgewerkt op 16 januari 2009 11:54
  7. ^ "Dutch gem Tim starts to shine - the Journal".
  8. ^ "Saints loaned Newcastle duo".
  9. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-05-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ "Sunday Sun - North East news, sport and what's on".
  12. ^ van Harskamp, Kelly (2013-04-17). "Kelly van Harskamp, the flying Dutchwoman".

External linksEdit