Former Knight Francis set to earn Super Rugby stripes

With the All Blacks odds on favourites to claim back-to-back Rugby World Cup crowns, heading into their highly anticipated tussle with cross-Tasman rivals Australia in the Final later this afternoon, ‘Kiwi’ may well be the word on everyone’s lips right now.

The same word may well resonate with former Knights fly-half Piers Francis in a very different way though after news recently broke of his selection for the Auckland Blues’ 2016 Super Rugby squad. Selection to represent Auckland’s esteemed rugby tradition, in Southern Hemisphere’s premiere Rugby competition, is a truly exceptional feat. Francis’ catalogue of talents thrilled Knights fans during his seven appearances for the club last season and a move to the NZ Super Rugby franchise is testament to the talented pivot’s abilities.

Gravesend born Francis left the Knights in 2015 to pursue an opportunity with New Zealand region, Counties Manakau and in his debut season for the Steelers, Francis accrued an impressive points tally – the Stand-Off registered over 100 points in just 9 ITM Cup appearances. The 25-year old will now continue his remarkable development under the tutelage of his regions Coach; the legendary former All Black centre, Tana Umaga.

On behalf of all at Castle Park, we would like to congratulate Piers on the wonderful news and we would also like to wish him the very best of luck for the upcoming season!

Remember the RWC final is being shown in the Castle Park Arms Park suit this afternoon KO 16:00.

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O2Touch finale success at Vulcan Hangar

Castle Park’s highly successful, weekly edition of O2touch soared to new heights last week, following a spectacular indoor tournament, within the awe-inspiring surrounds of the Vulcan hangar at Finningley on October 26th.

The captivating finale showcased touch rugby in its finest form, championing the Rugby fro all mantra, and the extraordinary surroundings comprehensively added to, what was, a truly momentous occasion.

Seeing the Vulcan XH558 in her home at Robin Hood Airport is an unforgettable experience in its own right, but the resounding success of the O2touch event at the hangar reaps its own unique rewards.

The club really has bought into the RFU’s O2touch initiative and are naturally delighted to see everyone’s efforts rewarded in such remarkable fashion; and the games were played with the core values of the sport at heart.

Our very own Doncaster Academy reigned victorious on the pitch to top off a wonderful day!

O2touch is an RFU-run initiative that encourages all individuals over the age of 18 to get involved with Touch Rugby on a regular basis.

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Knights supporters lend hands to RWC success.

Although the home nations can be dismayed by their performances in the World Cup there is one thing on which all are justifiably proud and that is the magnificent organisation of Rugby World Cup 2015. A key to delivering this has been the army of volunteers known collectively as “The Pack” where Knights stalwarts Allan McGregor and Phil Wilbourn played their part to the full as volunteer drivers at Elland Road for the Italy v Canada and Scotland v USA games.
The selection process started in Leeds nearly a year ago and nearly 30000 applied for 6000 places with Allan and Phil being selected for participation. It has involved attending meetings and courses at Leeds, Milton Keynes and Bristol. Learning new skills and polishing up on others. Who knew about the Domestic Driving Rules for example?

“It’s been about being involved and not sitting back. Both Allan and I have been involved with the game for decades as players referees and administrators. It has been a unique opportunity to be involved with this fantastic global competition; oh and to drive brand new Land Rover Discovery’s all over Yorkshire!!” said Phil Wilbourn

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Knights Air: final balance due.

A reminder for all Knights fans who are joining the travelling part for the Knights Air trip to Jersey RFC for our away league fixture on January 2nd that the final balance is due next Monday, November 2nd.

Payments can be made by calling reception on 01302 831388 or by popping into Castle Park, all cheques should be made payable to DRFC LTD.

There are a limited number of spaces still available on the trip and if anyone wishes to book please express your interest before the final payment deadline next Monday. Full details for what promises a truly memorable trip can be found here.


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RWC final at Castle Park.

Championship Rugby takes a break this weekend as the Knights enjoy a well earned rest from competitive action however there is still the small matter of the Rugby World Cup final.

After a thrilling weekend of semi final action it has been determined that Australia and New Zealand will lock horns this Saturday at Twickenham in a bid to be crowned World Champions.

Castle Park will be opening it’s doors to screen the sport’s pinnacle fixture on the big screen in the Arms Park Suite of the Clubhouse. The building will be open from 2pm with the bar fully stocked and there will be refreshments available to purchase from the counter.

Kick off at HQ is 4pm and we hope to see as many Knights fans as possible join us to take in what promises to be a superb rugby spectacle.


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Knights see off Scottish with second half fight back.

Doncaster Knights overturned a four-point deficit at the half-time interval, to record a vital 19-10 home victory against a resilient London Scottish.

The Knights fourth consecutive Castle Park triumph means they have consolidated their position among the Championship’s top four. Having consigned Scottish to a third successive league defeat, the Knights open up a six-point buffer over their now 7th-placed opposition.

It would be fair to say that the Knights got a real run for their money at their Armthorpe-base this afternoon and were forced to dig deep by a tenacious Scottish outfit, to register the win in testing conditions. The Doncaster men went into the sheds at half time trailing the visitors, 6-10, before producing a sterling defensive effort in the second stanza to shut their opponents out. The Exiles failed to register a single point in that second forty and were powerless to resist as the Knights pulled away in the latter stages of the contest.

The Knights began well enough and were ahead inside just two minutes, through a sweetly-struck Dougie Flockhart penalty, after Scottish were penalised for holding on at the breakdown. The momentum certainly seemed to be with Griff’s men in those opening exchanges, as the pack imposed themselves on their Richmond-based counterparts, forcing a succession of early penalties.

However, the Knights couldn’t translate that early dominance into points on the board and were made to pay as Exiles fullback, Peter Lydon, tied the scores at 3-3 after 19 minutes, bisecting the poles with a long range penalty. Scottish seemed to settle into the contest as a result of that, and almost immediately from the restart; the Knights would find themselves behind.

From Ollie Bryant’s kick-off, the Scottish pack attacked the gain line with some powerful carries before LYDON received possession in midfield. The fullback elected to hoist a delightful chip over the on-rushing Knights defensive line, before collecting his own kick to dot down. Lydon picked himself up to add the extras with a routine shot at goal. Scottish had seized the initiative and led 10-3 after 20 minutes, having been largely uninspiring prior to Lydon’s slice of individual brilliance.

The Knights needed a response and Flockhart duly delivered, reducing the arrears with his second penalty of the afternoon. Scottish threatened as the first half came to a close and could easily have strengthened their advantage but for some brave Knights defence. Lydon’s only blemish on an otherwise impressive first-half performance was his missed penalty attempt as half time loomed.

As it stood, the sides would go in for their half-time oranges with Scottish holding a slender advantage, though both sets of players were guilty of letting great opportunities go to waste.

At 6-10, the Knights were in contention, though Flockhart’s first miss from the tee after the break suggested it might not be the home side’s day.

The Knights players didn’t read that same script however, and launched wave after wave of attack. The sustained pressure finally told in the 65th minute when MAKAAFI bludgeoned his way over the chalk. Almost inevitably, it was the big man who touched down for the home side. The Championship Player of the Month for September marshalled the ball intelligently at the base of the maul, before burrowing over the line to continue his incredible try-scoring form. Flockhart converted a difficult touchline effort to see the Knights into a 13-10 lead with just over ten minutes to play.

The Knights rarely looked troubled after that and closed out the game comfortably. Flockhart added a penalty on the 70-minute mark to double the Knights advantage, before nailing a long range shot with the last play to deny Scottish, what may prove to be, an important losing bonus-point.

The Knights were professional in difficult conditions, on a wet and windy October afternoon in South Yorkshire, and were full value for the 19-10 victory. Scottish may yet rue not having clinched a losing bonus-point this afternoon and have now lost 3 consecutive games.

As a result they Exiles drop to 7th in the Championship table, while the Knights continue their impressive early season form and remain firmly among the pace-setters in 3rd; having now tasted success in 5 of their opening 8 Championship fixtures.

The Knights travel to Bristol for their next Championship fixture, on Friday 6th November.

Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Clark, Hurrell, Lewis, Bryant (Olver 32’), Edgerley (Field 71’); List (Bergmanas 77’), Hunter (Veikoso 74’), Quigley (John 77’), Hotson (Young 74’), Phelan, Makaafi (Owen 77’), Hills, Shaw.




London Scottish: Lydon, Williams, Clarke, Harries, Marchant, Grove, Heeks (Calder 42’); Hallam (Gibbons 71’), Kwasnicki (Cherry 66’), Litchfield, Carrick-Smith (Bartle 66’), Thomas-Brown, Treadwell, Walker (Grace 60’), Bright. Unused – Jackson; Turner.




Referee: John Meredith (RFU)

Attendance: 1,159

By Dean Page


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Why to pick up your Knights programme!

If you’re joining us at Castle Park for the game today, be sure to grab a copy of our official match day publication
Heading to the game today? Make sure to pick up your copy of the Official Match Day Programme at Castle Park! Today’s publication, prepared for the London Scottish clash, is brimming with great content and represents unbeatable value for money, at the extremely low price of just £2!
This week’s traditional Welcome Message is provided by Chief Executive, David Ryall.
With the Rugby World Cup now entering its closing stages, our Media and Marketing Intern Dean Page, previews the sport’s next global showpiece – Rugby finally returns to the Olympic environment next year, following a 92-year long absence. It’s Rugby’s Olympic Homecoming!
Make sure you check out our ‘Behind the Camera’ feature with Stuart Turner; as the man behind the camera for DKTV, gives us an insight into the demands and rigours of his job in a hectic media environment!
Get the latest information on the Supporter’s Coach, for our trip to Bristol on November 6th.
Starting the eight jersey today, Alex Shaw faces up to the XV questions this time around.
We’ve got a range of updates from around the club including; the Commercial Update, a round-up from the Community Team and the latest news from Doncaster Phoenix & Demons.
There’s an in-depth review of last Saturday’s sensational bonus-point victory over Cornish Pirates, while we’ve also added a comprehensive preview of tomorrow’s opposition, London Scottish…
Much, much more!
We hope to see you all at Castle Park for this afternoon’s crunch clash; and please don’t forget to pick up your match day programme!

No Micros rugby at Castle Park this Sunday

We regret to announce that the Micros Rugby session, scheduled for this Sunday morning, has been CANCELLED.

Unfortunately, the coaches are unable to attend due to prior commitments at Yorkshire Trials and are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Sessions are set to resume as from normal next week.


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Hurrell confident heading into Scottish.

Centre Will Hurrell and his Knights colleagues were in sensational form on the Castle Park turf last Saturday, as they dispatched a defiant Cornish Pirates in an emphatic 28-11 victory; clinching that all-important four-try bonus point in the process.

While conceding that the Knights are indeed in confident mood ahead of the clash, Hurrell has warned his team mates against complacency this time around and expects a close-fought, and ultimately bruising, encounter with a fired-up London Scottish side tomorrow afternoon.

‘Obviously it was a difficult defeat away at Carnegie and we really didn’t do ourselves justice up there – but credit to the boys for the way we bounced back. What impressed me most against the Pirates was our defence and understanding of systems – when we keep our shape, teams find it really tough to deal with us.

‘The mood’s pretty good within the camp, especially after last week’s result and performance; but it’s important to remember that it’s a very different challenge ahead of us this weekend.

‘Scottish were in fantastic form last season and started well enough this time around, although they’ve had a couple of tough losses in their last two outings. We know they’re going to come hard at us tomorrow as a result but this is our home turf, we’re on a high from last week and we feel like we’re playing some great rugby at the moment.

‘We need to stick to what we know and perform to the high standards we’ve set for ourselves already; obviously a win would be nice too!’

Will was one of the stand-out performers for his side last time out, bagging a great individual score to cap, what was, an impressive display from the 25-year old. He could well have had a second five-pointer to his name but the effort was chalked off as the officials spotted a crossing infringement prior to him dotting down. The summer-recruit from National One side Coventry RFC laughed off the importance of individual accolades though, and was honest in his assessment of both the disallowed try and the value of the collective outweighing that of the individual.

‘I’ve looked at it on the video but it’s just one of those tough ones (laughs) – I’ll admit that it’s always nice to pick up tries, but as long as I’m doing my job for the team then that’s all that matters.’

The Exiles will embark on the long, northbound trip to South Yorkshire from their Richmond base knowing that a 3rd consecutive Championship defeat against the Knights could prove to be detrimental to their play-off ambitions – even at this early stage of the campaign. The Knights’ slick midfielder acknowledged the importance of that very notion too; especially with his side hitting the dizzy heights of 3rd position.

‘It’s going to be a tough, tough game out there – Scottish are going to come flying out of the blocks from the off tomorrow. They’ll be up for this game, make no mistake about that, those back-to-back losses will have really hurt them, and for us; we want to push on and consolidate our position in that top 4. It’s likely to be a battle of territory and, I guess, after that we’ll take it from there.’’

The visitors possess one of the most potent try-scoring weapons in the second-tier competition; No.8, Mark Bright. The loose-forward registered 26 tries last season in an incredible, and subsequently, peerless feat of scoring; he went on to collect the top try-scorer gong at the end of season awards. Will was defiant in his assessment of the threat Bright may pose tomorrow however, and instead emphasised the need for his team-mates to nullify the Londoners as a collective; rather than concentrating on one, albeit extremely talented, individual.

‘We always do our analysis and look at the opposition’s stand out players – we work our game-plan around nullifying any threats that they may have. Obviously we’ve looked at Mark Bright and acknowledge that he’s a dangerous player who can hurt you in threatening positions; as his try-scoring record suggests. But I’m confident that we can handle both him and his team mates tomorrow.’

In his final assessment of the importance Saturday’s clash holds Will refused to understate the value of consecutive home triumphs to the Knights aspirations this season; even at such an early stage in the 15/16 Championship campaign.

‘It’s a crucial game – call it cliché but every game is crucial for us – we need to target each game as it comes but make no mistake; this game is huge for us. We’re determined to deliver a great performance tomorrow afternoon and one that our fans can be rightfully proud of.

‘We want to be in and around those play-off places at the business end of the season and we know a win here will only serve to improve our chances of achieving just that.’

By D.A.Page

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Doncaster Pride Awards Success.

Wednesday night saw Doncaster’s community heroes honoured in a captivating ceremony at the Racecourse, for the Doncaster Pride Awards. Members of the community were nominated earlier this year for their outstanding contributions to the locality; and there were some truly remarkable stories shared with those in attendance on the night.

Hundreds of people crammed into the Conduit Suite, eager to take in the inspirational tales of people from all backgrounds that’ve gone that extra mile for their community. The awards are run by a collection of South Yorkshire Newspapers, including the Doncaster Free Press, South Yorkshire Times and Epworth Bells, and aim to recognise people in Doncaster for their exceptional work in giving back to their community.

The dazzling event, hosted by Sam Ogrizovic, saw the Knights represented by half-back duo, Michael Heaney and Brad Field; to present two awards sponsored by the Club (Sporting Hero & Community Contribution). Martin Simpson scooped the Sporting Hero award for his crucial work at Adwick Leisure centre and Denis Dunn was posthumously awarded the Community Contribution award having started the Firefly Cancer Awareness charity prior to losing her battle to the illness.

Brad was quick to pay tribute to all the winners and nominees reflecting on the awe-inspiring tales and the wonderful event staged by South Yorkshire Newspapers shared to say. “The ceremony was extremely humbling – it really puts things into perspective and makes you realise just how lucky we all are and what people are capable of achieving.”

A huge congratulation goes out to the award winners on behalf of everyone here at Castle Park; it goes to show that our town really is something to be proud!

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Griff Names Knights Side for Scottish Challenge

DoR Clive Griffiths has confirmed his match-day 22 for the second instalment of successive home fixtures; against one of last season’s play-off semi-finalists, London Scottish.

The Knights have made one enforced change to the starting XV for Saturday’s crunch clash with the Exiles, following the news that no.8 Ollie Stedman has been handed a three match ban by the RFU for a striking offence committed in last Saturday’s bonus-point win at home to Cornish Pirates.

Alex Shaw will deputise for Ollie in the number 8 shirt, shifting into the role from his starting berth at blindside flanker last time out. The Championship Player of the Month for September, Latu Makaafi, is set to make his return to the starting line-up and will wear the no.6 shirt vacated by Shaw as a result of his switch to eighth-man.

The Knights have two fresh faces among the replacements too with fly-half Sam Olver in line to make his debut appearance from the bench, having linked up with the squad from Northampton Saints earlier this week. Olver featured against Doncaster during the 14/15 campaign and was particularly impressive during his eye-catching performance at Castle Park for Championship rivals Moseley. The young playmaker’s inclusion sees Andy Bulumakau drop out of the match-day squad completely.

The only other change sees the return of Openside Flanker, Will Owen, for his second stint at the Knights as a dual-registration signing from Leicester Tigers. Owen accompanies his fellow England Under-20s International, Olver, among the replacements. Both young men will be determined to produce their best rugby, should they be called upon, with the U20 Rugby World Cup, in Manchester next year, fast approaching.

Kick-off tomorrow – 2PM.


Knights Starting XV;15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Mat Clark, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Ollie Bryant, 9) Sam Edgerley, 1) Richard List, 2) Ben Hunter, 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Tyler Hotson, 5) Jon Phelan, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills ©, 8) Alex Shaw.

Replacements;16) Jack Bergmanas, 17) Vili Veikoso, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Glen Young, 20) Will Owen, 21) Sam Olver, 22) Brad Field.

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