From March Bears to England Counties: Rising star donates debut shirt to troubled former club

08:00 02 November 2012

De La Rey Veenendaal.

De La Rey Veenendaal.

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A FORMER March Bears star who is now playing international rugby has donated his first England shirt to the troubled club in a bid to help them survive.

Feetham: ‘We will resurrect the Bears’

MARCH Bears are hoping to kick-start their revival with a clash against the Renegades on November 24, president Barry Feetham has revealed.

More than 15 club members attended a crisis meeting at the club on Friday, which Feetham hailed as a success.

“There were a lot of positives that came out of it,” he said. “We’ve got to try and take things forward now. We want a new start.”

Feetham said members had vowed to “resurrect” the player numbers in March, while more volunteers had also come forward.

The Bears are planning to launch a poster campaign to find new players and another meeting to discuss the junior section is scheduled for November 12.

Feetham said: “The main priority is to try and fulfil our senior fixtures and the next priority is to get our junior section up and running. That will bring us stability.

“It is possible. I’ve been talking to other clubs in the area who have been in dire straits and they have recovered.”

De la Rey Veenendaal, 20, who played for the Bears as a teenager, made his debut for England Counties Under-20s against Scotland last season.

But when the winger heard that the Bears were at an “all-time low” with player and volunteer numbers, he was determined to do something to help his old club.

“Donating the shirt from my debut was the least I could do,” said Veenendaal. “I just wanted to say thanks for everything they have done for me.

“The Bears are a great club. They are a good bunch of guys and they always helped me when I needed it. I definitely improved my game with them.

“It is sad to see the situation they are in.”

Veenendaal, who studies at the University of Hertfordshire, admitted he still enjoyed a run-out for the Bears when time allowed.

He said: “When I was playing academy rugby I would always play for the Bears if I was coming back from injury. They have always accommodated me.

“It’s a good club to start out with. There’s a great atmosphere, you can work on your basic skills and the boys play some good rugby.

“I would be very sad if the club wasn’t there, it would be bad for the town.”

Bears president Barry Feetham said he was “chuffed” with Veenendaal’s gesture.

“We’re really touched by what he has done,” he said. “We have framed the shirt and put it up in the clubhouse.

“De la Rey is someone who has come from our junior level and made it. He is an example that we can use to show what March Bears does for rugby players.”

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