Francis Appleton, aged 28, from Worksop, has helped Leiden’s rugby club DIOK win its thirteenth national championship title in the Netherlands.
The final took place in the national stadium in Amsterdam on May 28 against RFC Haarlem – and ended with a winning score of 35-33.
Francis, a former player for Worksop and Newark rugby clubs, said he has still not had time to process the momentous win while celebrating summer before the season begins again at the end of August.
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He said: “The national stadium was completely full of people, it was pretty nerve wracking walking out.
“People just piled onto the pitch when we won, everyone went absolutely wild with smoke bombs.
“Since we won the championship I've been doing some big tournaments and I'm playing rugby league as well just to keep me tipped over.
“Right now it's more the case that we relax, enjoy our summers, go on holidays and vacation so we can give it our 100 per cent next season.”
Francis began playing competitive rugby at age 16 and went from Worksop, to a higher level in Newark, to the highest level of rugby in the Netherlands.
In August 2020, Francis flew from his home in Worksop to the Netherlands after applying to play as a prop for a team in Purmerend. Unfortunately he only played one game with them before Covid made a resurgence.
However, it was not long after that the former captain of DIOK got in contact with Francis and asked him to play for them.
In return for the club providing Francis with accommodation and a job, he has to dedicate his time to the team, with three training sessions a week on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, a game on a Saturday, and the gym in between.
“If you love it, it’s not hard work,” he said. “When we’re training we’re all having a laugh, it’s a really good environment.
“If you’re ever scared of losing the friends you made at your club by moving on, they won’t disown you or forget about you - you could still go down to the club and have a drink.”