When the Rotterdam Students presented their new coaching staff in the middle of the Corona pandemic, Rugby Netherlands was surprised. It appeared that experienced Ereklasse coaches Michiel Snijders and Barro Kessler had reached an agreement to come and coach the RSRC, who were in steady in the Second Division the previous year.
Not only that, together with the coaches, the then board expressed the ambition to promote both their first and second teams that year. In practice at the time, this meant that both teams had to finish in the top six of their respective classes and then win a top two spot in order to either win the championship and be promoted directly or win the playoffs as number two.
In times of uncertainty, record numbers of players trained hard to achieve this goal. But as with any great success, there were many obstacles and disappointments. Corona turned last season upside down and new information came from Rugby Netherlands that only the champions would be able to promote. This, of course, made the fulfilment of the already lofty ambition even more difficult.
With a new culture on the field, combined with the traditional RSRC culture off the field, a start was made with the first steps in the process. An extensive pre-season preparation, a fitness coach in Geert van Mourik, video analyses and mental coaching sessions. After a number of months and several Corona breaks, the first evaluation showed that the RSRC was on course to realise their goals.
More than three full teams trained every week and they took to the field every Sunday. Three competitive teams filled with hungry students worked week in, week out showing the tremendous drive towards the ambitious goal. And successes came; the top 6 was reached and the last part of the season would show to what extent the training in pairs or fours, indoor group trainings consisting of Yoga, Pump sessions, HIIT sessions and the field training would pay off.
With an unfortunate loss at Roosendaalse Commando Combinatie RCC, the scenario for the last weeks became clear. To achieve promotion to the First Division, it was necessary to win, six times in a row. Including the home game against the same RCC and the away game against feared opponent Tilburg, who with their tough no nonsense rugby have been giving the students a hard time on their own field for years.
Sunday 22 May showed that the RSRC really has grown as much as her ambitions. RCC was defeated by a large margin and the big goal was approaching. One more game in Tilburg was needed to win the championship and the double promotion would be secured. Double promotion because the previous week the second team of the RSRC already celebrated their unbeaten championship and was therefore sure of promotion to the Third Division. They defeated Thor on their own field with a 127-7 victory. A characteristic result for an historic season of 2XV.
In Tilburg, the growth of both teams proved to be more important. With an enormous group of supporters, the students travelled to the South of Holland. With about seventy supporters and of pumped up team, RSRC was more than ready for the all-important match. After a particularly exciting and well-fought match, the last ball was kicked over the side line. With an 18-13 victory, the championship in the Second Division had actually been won.
What a historic season it turned out to be 2021/2022. A double championship and a double promotion were achieved. This happened with very offensive student rugby. With an average age of about 21 years, there was a nice mix on the field between students who just started and students who almost graduated. It was also a mix between experienced rugby players and students who only saw a rugby ball for the first time in their student days.
The Rotterdam Student Rugby Club has entered a new era and dare to look upwards for the coming years. Maintaining their position in the new classes would be a huge achievement due to the new set-up of Rugby Netherlands, but ambitious as RSRC is, both teams are secretly looking at the top of the tables.
And with this prospect in mind, after this season the resources needed for further growth will of course be considered. The attraction of a Rotterdam Student Rugby Team in the First Division already seems to be ensuring that student players from surrounding clubs are eager to join the club’s ambitious plans. The traditions and social life off the field have ensured for years that people who join the club stay there until the end of their studies. With the performance on the field, we now seamlessly match this and the Rotterdam Student Rugby Club will enter next year’s field with its head held high in the First Division and the Third Division!