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