“It’s been hard to earn respect from our men’s teams,” says Astrid Huisman, a flanker with Dutch team RC Delft Dames. “But I’m proud of what we’ve been through and how we’ve grown and of our recent results.”
The women’s side from near Rotterdam has redefined the term ‘digging deep’ after being on the receiving end of numerous thrashings since their formation in 2007-08. The low point came last February, when they faced a long drive to league leaders Groningen with only nine fit players. With ten players needed to constitute a team, and so avoid docked points, hooker Linda van den Dungen took the field with a hip injury and, borrowing three more players, they battled to a 139-0 defeat.
“That day everything was wrong,” Huisman says. “We invariably play teams with more experience than us but have a great group of girls with the huge fighting spirit that you need to get the ball over the line. For myself I love to be in the mud and I’m proud of all my scars!”
Led by scrum-half Kainah Marx, RC Delft have a prospective international in centre Suzanne den Dulk and a front-row rock in Simone van den Berg.
The squad has been boosted by girls from nearby team HRC and, with coaches Johan and Frans Rijkers steering the ship, the side has ridden out the storm impressively. So impressively, in fact, that when they toppled RUS 2nds 17-15, Haarlem Raving Pumas 96-5 and RC Eemland 64-5, they rose to second (out of eight) in the middle of the country’s three divisions. “We now believe in ourselves,” says Huisman.
This article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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