Annemieke van Vliet [left] international lock for the Netherlands. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

A former Wairarapa College pupil and age-group sports star is making waves in women’s international rugby for the Netherlands.

Annemieke van Vliet, who was born in the Netherlands and moved to New Zealand with her family in 1997, returned to Amsterdam in 2018.

She plays lock for the AAC team, who lead the Dutch first division women’s rugby championship. Van Vliet represented the Netherlands in games against Sweden and the French Army and most recently in March in the European Championship that included a 46-17 victory over Germany.

Last weekend, the Netherlands took on world No 8 Spain in the final in Madrid and were beaten 54-0.

“The Netherlands are working hard to try and qualify for the World Cup [to be played in New Zealand in 2021],” van Vliet said.

“The quality of the game is rapidly improving here in the Netherlands and the game is becoming more and more popular with increasing levels of participation across all age groups.”

Van Vliet took up rugby at Wairarapa College and represented Wairarapa-Bush Under-18s in 2009 and then Manawatu schoolgirls.

While studying physical education at Otago University, she played for the Southern and Alhambra-Union clubs.

That led to selection in the Otago Spirit for the Farah Palmer Cup in 2016 and 2017. The Spirit finished runners-up in the 2017 championship.

Van Vliet comes from a family with a strong rugby pedigree.

Brother Johan was a star flanker for Eketahuna and a former Wairarapa-Bush Heartland captain.

Another brother, Huey van Vliet, is a Netherlands’ rugby international.

Sister Ditte has represented Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu in rugby in the Farah Palmer Cup.

As well as rugby, Van Vliet has an impressive sports resume.

She was goalkeeper in Wairarapa hockey age-group teams from 2007 to 2013. She was also in the Wairarapa College First XI hockey team which won the Federation Cup in 2011 and were runners-up in 2012.