AS ONE of the top university teams in the Netherlands, Leidsch Studenten Rugby Gezelschap (LSRG) had every right to think they would be consulted when plans for a new university sports centre were being drawn up in Leiden. After all, so devoted are LSRG to their pitch that they even have a name for it, the Palenpad, and sing about it in their club song.
Furthermore, they’ve played in the Leiden BioScience Park for all 50 years of their existence, staying put when the football and hockey clubs chose to go elsewhere.
Yet, seduced by the idea of attracting back other field sports with more potential players (and thus more revenue), the authorities have decided to ditch the rugby pitch. “We’re livid, not least as we weren’t allowed to participate in the process,” says fly-half Paul Walenkamp, a 45-year-old Aussie banker who only took up rugby at 34. “I don’t think they understand what we do, don’t see that we’re an established bona fide rugby club with a history and tradition.”
Coached by ex-Netherlands coach Iain Krysztofiak and Scot Keith Muirhead, LSRG this term finished fourth in the country’s third tier. March brought two memorable wins: 30-14 at Utrecht, where players sank to their ankles in mud, and 19-5 against Ezrc Oemoemenoe.
About 80% of the side are students, including prop mainstays Peter ‘Uncle Fester’ Verkerk, 140kg and not all of it muscle, and Kees ‘Meat’ Hogewoning. Alex Hoyng is a full-back of rare vision while skipper is No 8 Ollie Smart, from Gloucester, who is studying to be a sports teacher.
Just back from a tour to Scotland which included a fixture with old friends Currie, LSRG are ready to fight for their piece of turf. Best of British luck to you – and here are 22 kitbags from Canterbury for winning our Team of the Month award.
Next month we bring you our champions section – don’t miss it!
This article appeared in the June 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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