Last updated 2 years ago by Jon Wilkins
I have been trying all season to get an article from Utrecht Rugby Club about their fantastic work in the city. Against all the odds they have a thriving rugby scene with almost 500 members. This in a city with nearly 30 football clubs!
It was well worth the wait as we discover what motivates our contributor today Bas de Boer.
Bas is 51 years old, married to Annemarie Beers, father of two children, Charlotte (16 years) and Thijs (13 years). He was born in Amsterdam and raised in a small, typical Dutch village on the banks of the river Waal.
Bas came to Utrecht to study Chemistry and had a wonderful time as a student in the ‘big’ city. He met his wife in Utrecht and decided not to leave. He now lives in Langerak, a district of Leidsche Rijn, which is the newer part of Utrecht on the West-side of the city. Almost in his backyard, is the Utrecht Rugby Club.
What do you love about Utrecht?
I think, the best thing about Utrecht is that the city is big enough to have all the advantages of a city. But is also small enough, so that everyone actually lives close to the centre. The atmosphere in the city and the mentality of the residents is cosy and inspiring, the many nice restaurants and cafes make the city sparkling. And of course everybody in Utrecht is proud of the ‘Oude Gracht’ and the ‘Dom’ the highest point in Utrecht. Whenever the Utrecht Rugby Club wins a special or exciting match, seniors as well as youth, players and visitors will sing “Als ik boven op de Dom sta”.
When I’m on top of the ‘Dom’
When I’m on top of the cathedral,
I look down for a moment,
I will see the Old Canal
The Vredenburg and district C
Then my heart pops open
I am proud, what did you think?
Cause there’s no better place
Then Utrecht my town, then Utrecht my town
Does the municipality do enough for rugby in Utrecht?
The municipality of Utrecht helps sports clubs with all kind of facilities. The URC owns the clubhouse, but rents the sports fields from the municipality. The club is also supported by a ‘neighbourhood sports coach’, someone who promotes rugby within schools of the city and helps our youth trainers at the club. By offering rugby in schools, more children become acquainted with the sport. This makes the sport more accessible to young people and rugby in Utrecht can grow further.
Introduction to Rugby
My introduction to Rugby was when in February 2014, my daughter was 11 years old, she got a rugby clinic at primary school. She loved it and was invited to play a school tournament at the Utrecht Rugby Club. After that tournament, she started with an introduction at the rugby club and since then, she plays rugby. At the end of the season, at a nice tournament in the South of the Netherlands where Charlotte was playing, my son Thijs was invited to play with the youngest team. Next season both children played rugby.
Utrecht Rugby Club
Although growing fast, rugby is still a small sport in the Netherlands. There are just 87 Dutch rugby clubs. Three of them are settled in Utrecht: two student clubs (USRS for male students and RUS for female students) and just one ‘regular’ club: the Utrechtse Rugby Club (URC).
The URC is the only club in Utrecht where youth players can play rugby.
For comparison: there are almost 3,000 football clubs in the Netherlands, 28 of them in Utrecht city…
The URC has 489 members, almost half of them are 17 or younger. 10% of our youth are females. With these numbers of members, the URC is one of the biggest clubs in the Netherlands.
The youth plays in categories.
Every category is a two-year age group:
The ‘guppen’ U6 – just train and play with an oval ball
The ‘turven’ U8 – train once a week and play every week in mini-tournaments of ‘tag-rugby’
The ‘benjamins’ U10 – train twice a week, play every week in mini-tournaments using 8 players a side on one third of the field
The ‘mini’s’ U12 – train twice a week, play every week in mini-tournaments with 12 players a side on half of the field
The ‘cubs’ U14 – train twice a week, play every week in competition with 15 players, on the whole field
The ‘junioren’ U16 – train twice a week, play every week
The ‘colts’ U18 – train twice a week, play every week
Our girls play with the boys together in mixed teams. Except for the colts, where the physical differences become too dangerous and is a disadvantage for the girls. The girls play longer in the juniors or are allowed to play in the ladies team.
In every category, the URC has at least 2 teams. Just six years ago, the URC hadn’t any of its own youth teams, but just combined teams with other clubs! In the last decade, rugby has grown very fast.
We have two Ladies teams, the first representing the URC in ‘de Ereklasse’
We have also 4 men teams. The first team is playing ‘eerste klasse’, and hopefully will end of this season return in ‘de Ereklasse’ as well.
In 2017, the URC started touch rugby. This is still very new for the club, but offers even more people the opportunity to play rugby.
Almost all teams, form the turves to the first team, train on Tuesdays and Thursdays (youth 18:30-20:00, seniors 20:00-21:30). On these training evenings, it is one big rugby family on our fields. And that is what the URC stands for: a family club, with high quality rugby for everybody on each level.
Of course we want to win our matches. But fun is more important, as are our rugby norms and values: Integrity, Passion, Solidarity, Discipline and Respect.
That’s where rugby hit me!
I got to know rugby as a very respectful sport. Respect for each other, the opponents and of course the referee. My children felt, as non-rugby players, very welcome and coaches and teammates helped them to learn the sport: In the Netherlands, children play soccer everywhere on the streets, but no rugby. Everyone who starts at the URC doesn’t have any rugby technique and doesn’t understand the rules of the game. So trainers as well as players, are used to help our new members. For adult players who want to start with rugby, the URC offers a special introduction-course where you learn the basics of rugby, before you start in a team.
So everyone is welcome! Rugby does not exclude anyone. If you’re living in the neighbourhood of Utrecht, you’re invited to join the club and play rugby! No matter what age you are, or what level you want to play. New members are always welcome.
When my children started with rugby, I helped the club with organizing the weekly tournaments for the turves, benjamins and mini’s (TBM). I made a special tournament-app (www.tbmrugby.nl) which is still in use. Later I coordinated the youngest youth (TBM) and started with three other parents the biggest TBM-tournament in the Netherlands, Dom City Youth (www.domcity.info)
When my children where both too old for the TBM, I started as team manager for the Cubs, culminating in a fantastic trip to Glasgow with 42 teenagers!
September 2019 I was asked to become a member of the board as a youth board member.
My personal goals as a board member are to safeguard the values of rugby, especially among the youth, and to ensure that rugby remains accessible to everyone