RSRC 1st XV kicks off season with narrow loss

The Rotterdam Student Rugby Club kicked off their 2019/2020 season with an unsatisfying result. What promised to be a grand display of the students’ excellent pre-season preparation, turned out to be a disappointment. After losing no less than six players out of the twenty-two that were on the original teamsheet, coach Ray Blackburn had to be creative with the few players he had available to him. Winger Roel Ruizeveld de Winter made a rare appearance in the front five, while Hippolyte Hartman, the newly acquired unit from the Groninger Studenten Rugby Club, made his debut on loosehead prop. The unexpected personnel changes seem to have given RC The Pink Panthers the edge, as RSRC lost their first game 19-17.

The first round’s opponents, RC The Pink Panthers, hosted RSRC on their grounds in Driebergen. After their third-place finish in Tweede Klasse Noord in the 2018/2019 season, the rose-coloured felines requested to be transferred to the southern division in their quest for promotion to First Class. The students, who came off the back of a less successful season, were the obvious underdogs.

Fly-half Marc Kranendonk started the game off with an intelligent kick to the left-hand side of the field. The students, with a point to prove, applied immense pressure to the flesh-coloured pussycats and forced them to make mistakes. An early penalty kick in front of the posts was missed by Rotterdam, and the score remained 0-0. However, the red and green scholars preserved their advantageous position within the opponents’ 22-meter area. Soon after, they turned their opportunities into points, when blistering backline play allowed hooker Wouter Nommensen to go beyond the white tryline, and he did so as he would down a pint: with his left hand, with great ease, and with a big smile on his face. The try remained unconverted and the scoreboard showed a 0-5 score in favour of the visitors.

The Drieburgers struck back immediately and put seven points on the board, as their speedy winger found a way to penetrate the intelligent defensive line of the students. 7-5 was the halftime score, but it was not long until the home team extended their lead to 14-5. The students needed a converted try and a penalty kick to get ahead. With plenty of time left on the game clock, this seemed like an achievable task.

What followed was a masterclass in taming pussies by number ten Marc Kranendonk. He used his skill, strength and seduction to spread wide that which was in front of him; Marc went into the try area of the pinks, in the same way that many a student would enter a certain pink area, and then the climax came, as he pressed his ball down in the dirt with force, in the same way that many a student would press his balls down in the dirt. The following conversion by Walt Knuppel, the South African who was recently acquired after narrowly missing out on Springbok selection, pushed the score up to 14-12.

However, the Panthers quickly extended their two-point lead by scoring another try: score 19-12. There were seven minutes remaining on the clock when one of the Driebergen players booked a one-way ticket to the sin bin after he tackled center-turned-flanker-turned-lock Joost de Rooij off the ball. The closing stages of the game were, according to supporters of both sides, immensely suspenseful, as the game could still very realistically end in a draw. Beautiful phases of backline play by the Rotterdam side, with back-and-forth passes between captain Eduard Jansen and Walt Knuppel, culminated in Knuppel scoring his first try on debut. Unfortunately the try remained unconverted, and soon after the referee blew the final whistle.

Final score
19-17

Tries
Wouter Nommensen, Marc Kranendonk, Walt Knuppel

Conversions
Walt Knuppel

Lineup
15. Mostafa Sadiqi
14. Charlie Brugaliere
13. Philip Jonker
12. Kaay Sol
11. Boris Venema
10. Marc Kranendonk
9. Eduard Jansen (c)
1. Hippolyte Hartman
2. Wouter Nommensen
3. Kevin Cakim
4. Gianni Croes
5. Roel Ruizeveld de Winter
6. Beer Astro
7. Sjoerd Govaerts
8. Sam Dobbelaar

16. Joost de Rooij
17. Walt Knuppel
18. Floris Smits

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