Scrum-half van Poortvliet a key man for resurgent Holt

Bruce van Poortvliet about to score against Crusaders. Picture: Stuart Young

Bruce van Poortvliet about to score against Crusaders. Picture: Stuart Young - Credit: Archant

Holt's supporters have been delighted with the performances of the first team this season.

They have now won eight league games in a row, scoring over 40 tries in the process, and lie third in the London 3E table ahead of Saturday's tough trip to leaders Southwold.

Much of the success has been down to the new faces that have emerged through the Colts, but one key factor has been the form of their ever-present scrum-half Bruce van Poortvliet.

Bruce comes from a farming family based at Banningham. His father Neil captained Holt for two seasons in the 1970s and brother Jake had four spells as captain starting in 2003. Leadership clearly runs in the family and Bruce was the Holt first XV captain in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and currently captains the Norfolk's team in the county championship.

He came up though the Holt junior ranks and over time converted from a flanker to a centre and eventually ended up as scrum-half. His father Neil, a second row, says that Bruce is much faster than the rest of the family. Scrum-half is the player who has more of the ball in hand more than any other; given the consistency of his appearances, Bruce will have orchestrated more attacks for Holt than anyone else in recent memory.

His ability to see a gap round a ruck, and use the opportunity to make a break, has led to some impressive tries, notably a scintillating solo effort against Crusaders in Holt's previous game the Saturday before last, which they won 79-12.

Modestly Bruce attributes much of his skill development to help from his cousin, England and Lions scrum-half Ben Youngs and his father Nick Youngs.

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Except for a period at agricultural college, a season at North Walsham, and a season off recovering from a neck injury, Bruce has been a Holt regular for over a decade. He played every game last term and has repeated this record so far this season. He is not big for a scrum-half but, in the words of coach Ed Steed 'is one of those players who can bounce off a brick wall'.

Bruce attributes his robustness to the fitness demanded by working on the farm every day and his positive attitude towards rugby is immensely valued by his colleagues.

'You need to be realistic about the level at which you can play and just enjoy rugby wherever you are,' he said.