The Nederlandse Rugby League Bond has celebrated its busiest season in their 15-year association with the Rugby League European Federation, including an expanded representative calendar, youth programme and domestic championship, as well as elevation to voting membership status within the governing organization.
“We as a board made a conscious decision that developing domestically was to be our main focus and goal,” says development director, Jason Bruygoms, who resurrected the Dutch governing body in 2009.
“That has paid off as we now boast a four-team domestic competition and two of those now have active youth programmes running. We have one or two more clubs wanting to start up and join the competition and, for the first time, the national squad finally celebrated victories, in Germany and then at home to Sweden.”
Holland entered the sport in 1989 when they participated in the Student World Cup in England but since the creation of the NRLB – which became an RLEF Observer in February 2012 and an Affiliate Member in June – there has been a more coherent development path.
Kane Krlic, who this year returned to Holland after a stint working with the Rugby Football League in England, has added his expertise to the technical side whilst the NRLB has also put in place a plan to promote locally-produced coach and match official educators.
“With the sport growing we are at the point where we are now having to start looking at expanding the season so it will no longer only be played during the summer months,” continued Bruygoms.
“Last year we got together on the third Saturday of each month during the winter and this is something we want to continue, offering players more games. For us to grow as a sport we can no longer plan our season around other sports as this will simply hold our progress back.”
Den Haag Knights, current champions Rotterdam Pitbulls, Amsterdam Cobras and new club this year Hardewijk Dolphins, constitute the Dutch championship. Genuine club and player development is something Bruygoms and the NRLB are particularly proud of.
“Seventy-five per cent of our clubs are no longer reliant on outside players anymore which is very positive with players opting for rugby league as their main sport. We need to cater for them in order to keep the momentum going.”