It’s not just for the boys, you know!
Rugby Club Eindhoven is one of the oldest rugby clubs in the Netherlands, dating back to 1929. They are based at the sports grounds in Eindhoven North and they pride themselves on having "a place for everyone". And if you take a look at their website, you will see exactly what they mean! Boys AND girls can join in from 4 years of age, and there are teams of all ages right through to adults. That includes the ladies team who compete in the 2nd Division South. And so I went along one Thursday evening to train with them.
I arrived a little early, slightly apprehensive about what I was getting myself into. Rugby is a pretty popular sport where I am from, but real rugby is rarely played by girls. It is much more common to play touch. I’d packed my mouth guard just in case.
Any nerves I had soon subsided. Every person – whether setting up, in the club house or on the team – was really friendly and helpful. And once the training began, there was no time to think about how I was feeling! The warm up proved just how fit and fast these ladies are. They can sprint, they have endurance, and they are agile.
Karl, the coach, informed us that the focus of the evening was on ball handling skills. Easy enough, you would think? Well you thought wrong! Like any sport, the top players make it look simple, but that doesn’t mean it is. Especially when you’re running and passing the ball to one side while another player is running towards you and passing another ball to someone else and then you need to run in another direction and do it again and balls are flying and players are running and calling out to each other from all directions. And remember, you have to pass the ball backwards!
Sounds chaotic, right? It was actually far from it. I just had to get my head out of the clouds and start concentrating on the task. And I had to keep that concentration up – if I let it slip, I’d pass the ball to the left not the right, and run in the wrong direction. It took focus to ensure it all went smoothly. And when it went smoothly, it was fantastic. We did a number of ball handling drills, including defending and attempting to get over the try line, and then finished off with a game of touch rugby. It was a full on 1,5 hours and by the end I was exhausted.
In the upcoming season, the club is hoping to attract more female players. They’d like to form a girls’ team as well as attract more women for their ladies team – the Eindhoven Lions! If you’d like to try it out, you can join in the training on Tuesdays and Thursdays for four weeks, for free. After that you can decide if you’d like to join the team.
If you’d like to give it a go, take a look at the rugby club website (in English and Dutch) for further information and contact details.