Exeter Chiefs Women have today confirmed highly-rated Netherlands international, Linde van der Velden as the first of a number of new signings heading to Sandy Park ahead of the new season.
Van der Velden, 25, is Susie Appleby’s first new arrival and joins the Chiefs having previously played for Castricum in the Netherlands and, more recently, Toulouse in France.
The powerful back-row forward – who has represented her country at both 15s and 7s level – has spoken of her delight at joining the newly-formed Premier 15s club.
“I’m really excited about my move to Exeter,” she said. “Speaking with Susie, I think we are going to have a great team, the set-up looks amazing and I’m keen to learn, which is the most important thing.
“Last season I was playing in France with Toulouse, but speaking with some of the other players they told me I would like playing in England. I got to speak with Susie and I got the chance to play for the team at Newcastle a few months ago. Everything I heard beforehand and then when I played with the team, it all felt very good and decided that if there was a chance of a contract, I would come straightaway.”
Covid-19 issues around the world have meant Appleby has been working all hours of the day to build her squad, but the arrival of Van der Velden shows her efforts are at last starting to pay dividends.
“Linde is going to be a great addition to our squad,” said Appleby. “Not only is she a big ball-carrier, but she’s a fine athlete, has a huge work-rate and defensively her game is very sound.
“Obviously, we got to work with her initially up in Newcastle, where she had a great game and showed some fantastic leadership qualities, plus we know she has good experience of playing in France and for her country.”
Van der Velden has already arrived in Devon and started training with the Chiefs, but she will also be combining her playing with a day job at Newton Abbot-based architects, PMR Architecture.
“I am so grateful to everyone at the company for the support they have given me,” added Van der Velden. “From the moment I had my interview on Zoom during lockdown, I could feel the vibe of the business and it was just fantastic. They are so supportive, not just in terms of my work, but also around my rugby as well.”
Van der Velden is the first of several international newcomers Appleby is due to confirm this week.