Meet Kei Blacks: International Rugby Team Eindhoven

Since two years, Eindhoven has its very own touch rugby team. Last month, the team played its first official match during the Touch 'n Tulips Tournament in Amsterdam. Our 'Kei Blacks' made it into the top five. We met up with team founder Colin to talk about a sport that is becoming increasingly popular in the Netherlands.

What the ... is touch rugby, you might think. So did Colin two years ago. He played regular rugby for years in his home country Ireland, but had to stop because of an injury. When he moved to Eindhoven he was looking for a new team sport. After meeting a Frenchman, who used to be part of the French national touch rugby team, he became enthusiastic. Together with another Frenchman, they decided to set up a new team in Eindhoven, consisting of both Dutch and internationals.

Limited-contact sport

Touch rugby is a limited-contact sport, where tackling is replaced with touching the opponent - making it a less aggressive kind of rugby. The playing team consists of three men and three women. The sport origins from countries where rugby was already a popular sport. During the off season, teams picked up touch rugby to stay in shape, but without the risk of getting injured.

Meanwhile, the sport is gaining popularity. In countries like Belgium, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, touch rugby is booming. Eindhoven has a touch rugby team since 2016, including thirty men and women in total. After a number of friendly matches, Touch Eindhoven ‘Kei Blacks’ played its first official match two weeks ago. Eindhoven ended fifth out of sixteen in a tough pool with Team Berlin and Team Hurricanes from Paris, last year’s finalists, and Team Kituro Brussels, one of Belgium’s top teams.

Eindhoven branded rugby kits

"We were the talk of the town", says Colin. Not only because of the excellent result, but also because of the new team outfits. The ‘Kei Blacks’ appeared in super cool, Eindhoven branded black shirts.

The next step is to find their own place, where they can train and organize competitions: "A place we can call our home". So Colin is looking for partners to get this project of the ground. New members - men, and especially women - are welcome too. For Colin, the touch rugby team is more than just a sport, it’s a way of bringing people together. He emphasizes that the team is very accessible and open to enthusiasts of all ages and of all backgrounds. Every Wednesday evening, the team trains in Eindhoven (check the website if you’d like to join).  

Photo's by Bram Berkien