Cambridge Rugby Club quartet set for retirement
Cambridge Rugby Club will be saying goodbye to four retiring players this summer.
Richie Williams’ side had a stellar campaign in National League One during 2021/22, finishing in fourth place – they were in the running for top spot until the final two games of the season. But a number of the squad have decided to call time on their careers.
Scrum-half Darryl Veenendaal, utility back Andrew Henderson and centre Marc Koteczky will hang up their boots, while Jake McCloud is taking a sabbatical away from the game.
“Darryl Veenendaal is retiring, and we probably knew this when we signed him that it would be his last season playing National League rugby,” said Cambridge director of rugby Williams.
“His record speaks for itself, he has played over 200 Championship games for Bedford and Nottingham, and added a lot to the group this season – his level of maturity and leadership. He has helped the likes of Kieran Duffin with his control and game management. We will miss him as a club.
“Hendo came to us three seasons ago and has played a lot of rugby. He is quite a durable person, he doesn’t suffer many injuries and played probably 90 per cent of the games we’ve had over the last three seasons.
“His level of versatility, experience and life experiences – moving abroad and playing rugby overseas – has given the players a little bit of support.
“Marc joined us the year before Covid and has been a little bit unlucky with a run of injuries he picked up around Christmas. He is another player that has fitted in really well this season.
“He ended up playing fly-half before Christmas against Rosslyn Park and Bishop’s Stortford which we ended up winning both those games with bonus points so he has been another really good player for us this season.
“Jake is taking a sabbatical from rugby. Him and Grace, his wife, are expecting their first child in September so Jake wants to take a bit of time away from the game. He’s not 30 yet so I would like to think he will back playing in the not too distant future.
“He has been a really good stalwart for the club.
“He is one of the centurians, and I think we’ve probably seen his best season on the field. He has been very consistent with his performance.
“All four are retiring so they will certainly be missed by the club this season.”
He added: “We will bring in a couple of players to replace those, and we will look to announce those over the next few weeks, but it will be very difficult. People like Jake McCloud have a very unique skill set for his position, with his versatility and explosiveness when he’s got the ball.”
Cambridge hosted their player-of-the-year awards last Friday, and Ben Brownlie was the supporters’ first-team choice, Billy Walker was the coaches’ selection and Kieran Frost got the players’ nod. Gareth Baxter won the BBC Radio Cambs gong.
Colts award winners: players’ player – Clark MacFarlane, coaches’ player – Reeve Brighty. Exiles award winners: players’ player 2019/20 – Alex Chabala, players’ player 2021/22 – Alex Howard, coaches’ player – Jake Prier. Colours awards – Lawrence Rayner, Kieran Duffin, Julian Mannion, Tracey Baxter.