Late David Weersma penalty secures famous victory over Belgium 

Netherlands promoted to Rugby Europe Championship

Netherlands have secured promotion to the Rugby Europe Championship (REC).

Having won the Rugby Europe Trophy in 2020, Netherlands earned a promotion-relegation play-off against Belgium, who had finished bottom of last year’s REC. And the Dutch have won that play-off 23-21 to move into the premier Rugby Europe competition for the first time in 19 years.

It was a dramatic match in Waterloo, with the lead changing hands several times and a late penalty sealing an historic victory for the visitors.

Netherlands were in control at the break, leading 10-0 thanks to a try, conversion and penalty from David Weersma. The centre extended that lead to 13-0 in the 52nd minute with another penalty.

Netherlands promoted to Rugby Europe Championship

Netherlands coach Zane Gardiner shows his breakdancing skills (BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Hosts Belgium then fought back with two tries in 12 minutes. First prop Maxime Jadot powered over for a try from close range, with fly-half Alan Williams adding the conversion to reduce the deficit. Then they took a narrow advantage into the final ten minutes when Jens Torfs’s try was converted by Williams.

However, Netherlands regained the lead when Bart Wierenga went over for a try, Weersma again on target with the boot.

The pendulum swung back towards Belgium when they got their third try, Thomas De Molder crossing and Williams converting, to take a 21-20 lead going into the final five minutes.

Weersma had the final say, though. The hosts conceded a penalty at the breakdown in the 77th minute, Weersma stepped up to slot it and Netherlands were able to hold on for the victory.

You can watch highlights of the match here…

Netherlands will now play their first REC match on Saturday 26 June against Georgia, who are unbeaten in this year’s championship with four wins from four.

Promotion to REC also gives Netherlands the opportunity to reach the 2023 Rugby World Cup because the European tournament doubles as a qualifier for the global showpiece.

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