Special edition playoff jersey

The Knights will play the Castle Park leg of the play-off semi-finals in a limited edition playoff jersey.

Kit Suppliers Samurai Sportswear have supplied the one-off shirt to celebrate the Knights reaching the play-offs of the Greene King IPA Championship.

The primary feature on the new kit is the addition of a gold section on the collar and flank areas. The red and white across-the-body stripes have been pushed down slight to the midriff area and sport another layer of red and white on top of the original.

Fingers crossed the new jersey will get a second outing in the home leg of the final!

Image by Stephen Taylor

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Twenty-Four IT Services continue as main kit sponsor.

We are delighted to announce that principle kit sponsor Twenty-Four IT Services will continue to back the Knights for, at least, another two seasons.

Having taken the front of shirt place ahead of the 2015/16 season the Doncaster based IT Firm have agreed to continue to be front and centre on the Knights kit for at least two more seasons.

With the first leg of the playoff semi-finals just one day away Twenty-Four IT’s Managing Director Tony Houlihan exclaimed he is delighted to be continuing the partnership between the Club and Company.  “I’m very happy to be continuing our support of the Knights, it’s an incredibly exciting time at the Club – we’re all really looking forward to the playoffs and wish the team every success. Fingers crossed there will be more to celebrate in the coming weeks and months!”

Knights Commercial Manager Kris Turner-West was quick to add his happiness about the new deal stating he is delighted continue to work alongside Tony and his team at Castle Park. “We’re really happy that Twenty-Four IT will be continuing their support of the Club for the next two years, I know they are a very ambitious local business which coincides nicely with what we are aiming to do.

“As well as sponsoring the Club they are big rugby fans and are passionate about the Knights all of which makes Twenty-Four IT a perfect fit for the Knights front of shirt.”

You can find out all about the wide range of IT services that Twenty-Four IT offer by heading to their website www.twentyfourit.co.uk

 

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Limited edition playoff merchandise in stock.

Limited edition playoff T-shirts & flags are in stock and on sale from 10am tomorrow morning.

The t-shirts and flags will go on sale from 10am tomorrow until the Supporters Coach departs Castle Park and will be available through the week, Monday-Friday (9am-5pm). 

The T-shirts cost £10 and the flags are £7.50. 

 

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Knights celebrate Weldricks link.

On the week that the Club gears up for arguably the biggest game in Doncaster Knights history versus local rivals Yorkshire Carnegie we celebrate another local link with long-term partners Weldricks Pharmacy.

Weldricks Pharmacy is a family based business with a commitment to community healthcare, boasting 61 pharmacies concentrated in South Yorkshire and over 600 trained staff including over 80 pharmacists.

The Knights and Weldricks have enjoyed a long-standing association, which currently sees both parties enjoying a successful 2016.

To learn more about the day-to-day operations and the wide-range of services available from Weldricks, Knights prop Jake Armstrong joined the DKTV team at the Armthorpe branch less than a mile from Castle Park. Check out our video below and for information about Weldricks Pharmacy check out https://www.weldricks.co.uk/

Knights side named for semi final opener.

The Knights side charged with going to Headingley on Sunday afternoon has been named.

 

The Knights coaching staff have named a familiar XV for Sunday’s semi-final first leg with Yorkshire Carnegie. Paul Jarvis retains his places at full back with Andy Bulumakau and Tyson Lewis on the wings and Mat Clark partners recent dream team nominee Will Hurrell in midfield.

 

At half back Dec Cusack will start at standoff out side scrum half Michael Heaney, as they have for the majority of the domestic campaign.

 

Upfront it is the usual trio of Richard List, Ben Hunter and Colin Quigley ahead of Matt Challinor and Jon Phelan. The back row sees Latu Makaafi join Alex Shaw with Michael Hills captaining the side from his customary position of open side flanker.

 

On the bench forward fire power is provided by Vili Veikoso, Riccardo Brugnara and WillGriff John along with Glen Young and, soon to be Carnegie man, Ollie Stedman. The backs are covered by Ollie Bryant and Brad Field.

 

Kick off at Headingley is at 15:00, Sunday May 1st.

 

15) Paul Jarvis, 14) Andy Bulumakau, 13) Mat Clark, 12) Will Hurrell, 11) Tyson Lewis, 10) Dec Cusack, 9) Michael Heaney, 1) Rich List, 2) Ben Hunter, 3) Colin Quigley, 4) Matt Challinor, 5) Jon Phelan 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Michael Hills, 8) Alex Shaw.

 

16) Vili Veikoso. 17) Riccardo Brugnara, 18) WillGriff John, 19) Ollie Stedman, 20) Glen Young, 21) Ollie Bryant, 22) Brad Field.

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Contingency Planning for Possible Promotion to the Aviva Premiership

Doncaster Knights are just three days away from contending the Club’s first ever promotion playoff campaign; however, successfully winning the two legged semi-final and final does not guarantee a seat at Rugby Union’s top table.

A Championship club seeking promotion to the Premiership is required to meet the Minimum Standards Criteria (MSC) for Premiership rugby set by the RFU and the Professional Game Board (PGB). The MSC are exhaustively wide ranging and include an examination of facilities, services, staffs (rugby, medical, administrative, community), policies and procedures.  Many and most of today’s criteria arose following the Hillsborough Stadium disaster which has returned in to the public domain in the last 24 hours.  Castle Park is currently subject to HM Government Guidelines for stadia (post Hillsborough) and a plethora of primary legislative requirements that are required of all other licensed stadia.  Where Castle Park currently falls short of the MSC is the licensed capacity.  

The starting point for the RFU / PGB audit the Club has been subject to these past weeks was to be able to play at a stadium with a minimum capacity for 10,000 spectators – double the current approved capacity of Castle Park.  To satisfy the MSC, the Club must have a stadium available that meets all of the specifications for the start of 2016/17 season in the first week of September 2016 – just 14 weeks after the second leg of the Championship playoff final.

Aside from the huge expense of speculatively doubling the seating and terraced capacity of Castle Park before the outcome of the playoffs was known, the time constraint between one season ending and the next beginning made it impossible to guarantee that Castle Park would be up to standard by the start of the new season.  

The Club has agreed terms with Doncaster Rovers for the use of the Keepmoat Stadium, a facility that meets the MSC criteria, and has today been approved by the RFU / PGB should Doncaster Knights gain promotion to the Premiership.   

In parallel with the recent audit process, the Club has been working with Doncaster Council (the Licensing authority), the local emergency services and the RFU / PGB to start the process of changing the conditions of the ground safety certificate to achieve the required capacity through the installation of temporary facilities at Castle Park to meet the MSC capacity criteria.  That work would start on May 26th if Doncaster Knights were to reign supreme at the end of the playoffs.

We trust that we can rely on the loyal support of the Doncaster Knights fans during these exciting times at the Club.

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Knights quartet named in Dream XV

Four Knights have been named in the Greene King IPA Championship 2015/16 dream XV making the Knights the best represented side in the selection.

Following a historic campaign that has resulted in a second place finish and a place in the playoff semi-finals just two years after winning promotion back up to the second tier of English rugby opposition coaches voted that Ben Hunter, Latu Makaafi, Michael Heaney and Will Hurrell performed the best in their respective positions throughout the 2015-16 campaign.

DoR Clive Griffiths heaped praise on the selected players but exclaims it is no less than they deserve and is another affirmation of the Knights superb team effort this season. “I’m absolutely delighted for all the lads who have been selected for the prestigious Dream Team.

“They are truly representative of a fantastic group of players at The Knights and I know they will be first to thank their team mates for helping them achieve this honour.

“All have excelled in their respective positions and thoroughly deserve their selection.”

The three other Championship semi-finalists are well represented too, with call-ups for table-topping Bristol trio Gaston Cortes, Jack Lam and Tom Varndell. Bedford backs, Jake Sharp and Pat Tapley, get the nod at fly-half and on the wing respectively, while Yorkshire Carnegie no.8 Ryan Burrows flies the flag for the Leeds-based side.

London Welsh’s Josh McNally and Josh Thomas Brown of London Scottish make up an all-Exiles second row. Both clubs also have a player apiece in the Dream XV back division in Guy Armitage and Pete Lydon.

Jersey’s Newcastle-bound Sam Lockwood is the only player to retain his place from last year.

PROP: SAM LOCKWOOD (JERSEY) Destructive scrummager whose ball carrying ability and work rate in defence has earned him a move to Premiership outfit Newcastle. Claimed 50% of the votes.

HOOKER: BEN HUNTER (DONCASTER KNIGHTS) Combative hooker who has been one of the cornerstones of the Knights’ pack. Has kept Fijian World Cup player Vili Veikoso on the sidelines for most of the season. Marc Jones came an honourable second.

PROP: GASTON CORTES (BRISTOL RUGBY) Tough-as-teak Argentinean who takes no prisoners at scrum-time or at the breakdown. Pushed close for his place by Jersey’s Simon Kerrod and Doncaster veteran Colin Quigley.

LOCK: JOSH MCNALLY (LONDON WELSH) Hard-working, ex-RAF lock who grew as a player as the season progressed and played an important role in turning around London Welsh’s fortunes.

LOCK: JOSH THOMAS BROWN (LONDON SCOTTISH) Superb lineout technician and a larger than life character who brings so much energy to the group on and off the pitch.

FLANKER: LATU MAKAAFI (DONCASTER KNIGHTS) Tough-tackling Tongan international who carries the fight to the opposition week in week out. Has weighed in with 17 tries, the second best return in the league.

FLANKER: JACK LAM (BRISTOL RUGBY) Continued his fine form from last season after returning to the club from World Cup duty with Samoa. A superb ball-carrying, big-hitting openside who is one of Bristol’s main pack leaders.

NO.8 RYAN BURROWS (YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE) Skittles opponents at will with his destructive runs from the base of the scrum. A real crowd-pleaser who never seems to have a bad game. Burrows’ inclusion ends Mark Bright’s three-year run in the Dream XV.

SCRUM-HALF: MICHAEL HEANEY (DONCASTER KNIGHTS) His lightening quick service has been one of the key reasons why Doncaster’s back line has fired so well this season. Defends well for a small man and knows when to go himself. Edged out Bristol’s Will Cliff.

FLY-HALF: JAKE SHARP (BEDFORD BLUES) Top level coach in the making due to his ability to read the game so well. Scored over 128 points in the regular season and set up a hatful of tries for his team-mates with his astute kicking game and distribution skills. Accumulated more votes than any other player.

CENTRE: WILL HURRELL (DONCASTER KNIGHTS) All hustle and bustle in midfield, Hurrell has consistently given the Knights go-forward in attack with his ability to run the hard yards and pump his legs through the tackle.

CENTRE: GUY ARMITAGE (LONDON WELSH) Powerful specimen who can mix it with the best physically but also possesses the pace to beat defenders on the outside if needed. Off to Wasps after a hugely impressive season-long loan deal at the Exiles. Bedford’s Michael Le Bourgeois was in the running too.

WINGER: TOM VARNDELL (BRISTOL RUGBY) Scored more tries than any other winger in the Championship with 12 from 19 league appearances. Still a class finisher.

WINGER: PAT TAPLEY (BEDFORD BLUES)Out-and-out pace merchant who makes breaks for fun. Big and strong enough to take any punishment that comes his way.

FULL-BACK: PETE LYDON (LONDON SCOTTISH) Won no less than four matches for the Exiles with late kicks. An ever-present for Scottish, at full-back or fly-half, Lydon finished the season as the league’s second top points scorer with 182 points and fully deserved his club’s Player of the Year award.

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DKTV: Michael Hills – My Knights journey

On the two year anniversary of the Knights league-winning victory at Blackheath Michael Hills talks to DKTV’s Michael Casey about his three seasons with the Club.

The Knights captain reflects on the high and lows of his time at Castle Park before looking ahead to this weekend and beginning a potentially historic playoff campaign.

 

DKTV: Clive Griffiths – playoff talk.

Watch as Clive Griffiths talks about the weekend’s loss to London Welsh before speaking in-depth about the Knights playoff campaign and the opportunity in front of his squad.

The much-decorated Director of Rugby believes that the Knights semi-final clashes with Carnegie are up there as the biggest and most important fixtures he has been involved in during his coaching career.

 

Awards Knight – May 10th!

Doncaster Knights’ End of Season Awards Dinner will take place at Castle Park on Tuesday 10th May, 7:30pm.

Join us as we celebrate a phenomenally successful season at Castle Park, regardless of the next two week’s results, and recognise those stand out individuals with a variety of awards; including the prestigious Player’s Player of the Season honour.Tickets and tables are now on sale for the feature event, which will include a two-course meal and speeches ahead of the award presentations.Tables of ten will be hosted by at least one first team player and tickets cost just £25 per head or £220 for a table of ten. Tickets are available by calling 01302 831388 [Option 2] or popping in to Castle Park, Mon-Fri 9-5.A number of awards will be presented including:

–          Player’s Player of the Season

–          Coaches Player of the Season

–          Fan’s Player of the Season

–          Try of the Season

–          Top Gun (Defense award)

–          Clubman of the season

Voting for Try of the Season & Fans Player of the Year will go live shortly. Check www.drfc.co.uk and the Knights social media for details of how to vote.A Number of awards are available to Sponsor, if you might be interested in, or would like more information about sponsoring an End of Season award please email kturner-west@castle-park.co.uk.

Dress code: Smart Casual.

 

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First half indiscipline costs Knights in Welsh loss.

London Welsh 24-19 Doncaster Knights.

The Knights played twenty minutes of the first half with at least one player in the sin bin culminating in a 17-5 half time deficit at Rosslyn Park. Typically, Donny fought back and lead on the hour mark but the Exiles had the last laugh as full back Chris Elder score the last try of the game to secure a 24-19 win.

The loss makes no difference to the Knights who wrapped up second place last weekend and the losing bonus point means that the side finish ahead of Carnegie by points, not just number of wins.

The, much changed, Knights side arrived at Rosslyn Park for this final regular season clash versus London Welsh, plenty has changed since the Knights last visited ‘The Rock’, not least the playing surface which is now artificial.

The Knights have been criticized for starting slowly in recent clashes against Moseley and Bedford and the trend continued against the Exiles. It took winger Nic Reynolds just five minutes to open the scoring after the Knights failed to retain possession at the kick off. A poor clearance kick put the hosts in range and from the resulting lineout Welsh forced a penalty. Despite being straight in front of the sticks former England fly-half Ollie Barkley went to the corner. A well-taken lineout set up a platform for the home pack to drive and when the maul was illegally collapsed, Reynolds pounced through a hole on the blind side. Barkley could not convert, 5-0.

The Knights showed much improvement following the opening try and really should have evened up the scores. A couple of penalties marched them deep into Welsh territory and Brad Field nearly broke over after a driving maul went to deck. Penalties continued to come for the Knights but the Knights failed to put away their chances; a penalty for crossing, an interception and a miss thrown pass killed three stone wall chances in the opening quarter.

A momentum swing came on twenty minutes when the Knights lost a man to the sin bin, Vili Veikoso prevented a quick tap penalty which saw the hooker yellow carded. A man light, the Knights set piece suffered which caused headaches for the rest of their play and Welsh began to move more freely.

A turnover deep in the Knights half set the home side moving and when Oliie Stedman was, somewhat harshly, penalised for a no arm tackle Barkley stuck his side in the corner. Tyler Hotson did well to interrupt the Welsh lineout but the Knights had no one back to clear up the loose ball and Ollie Bryant had to race over to ground possession in goal. From the resulting series of scrums the Knights were put to the sword – a succession of penalties saw, firstly, Richard List sent to the sinbin and then a penalty try which Barkley converted, 12-0.

The Knights needed a reaction or risked being out of sight before the interval, thankfully is came. Good pressure forced a knock on from which Ollie Stedman carried powerfully. The Knights pack patiently picked and carried from the breakdown before Bryant attacked down the blindside and nearly opened up a gap but unfortunately his offload missed its target. Donny did not need to wait long to make the breakthrough however, a solid scrum gave Stedman a platform to carry from and the number eight broke the gain line. Quickly recycled possession was spun to Dave McIlwaine who produced a nice tip on for Paul Jarvis who collected and raced over in the corner. Dougie Flockhart’s impressive conversion attempt from the touchline hit the post, 12-5.

Getting to half time and returning to a full complement trailing by just a score would have been a good result for the Knights but unfortunately a lapse in concentration and a superb display of ball carrying by home centre Guy Armitage saw Welsh extend their score. The midfielder broke through several would be tackles to gallop home, Barkley’s conversion hit the sticks – half time score 17-5.

The second half started at a frantic pace with attacking opportunity coming for both teams, Guy Armitage looked to have split the Knights defence again only to be stopped just short of the line by an impressing last gasp tackle from Flockhart. Defence was quickly turned into attack and McIlwaine carried hastily into broken play and found a gap to take him deep into the Welsh 22m, the full back found Bevon Armitage on his inside shoulder who collected the offload to touch down. Flockhart was on target with a fine kick from the touchline to make the gap just five points.

The game continued to be played at breakneck speed and, whilst it may have been a tad scrappy at times, was certainly an entertaining watch. Both teams looked threatening going forward and vulnerable in defence which was symbolized by the next score. The Welsh backs seemed to have opened up a gap only for Bryant to shoot out of the line and make an interception the standoff put his foot down to race over from all of 80 metres. Once again Dougie nailed the extras from a tricky wide angle and the Knights lead for the first time in the game.

The lead was short lived however as The Exiles hit back just minutes later, Reynolds ran a nice line to break through the Knights defence before handing onto Chris Elder who raced under the posts. Barkley’s conversion made it 24-19.

The Knights had the better of the final ten minutes and created a handful of opportunities that looked for all the world as if they would end in tries. A driving lineout culminated in several pick an go drives on the try line before possession was flung wide, Paul Jarvis collected and seemed to have grounded the ball in the corner but it was not given and Welsh held out.

Whilst disappointing to end the regular season with a defeat, the result makes no odds with a playoff campaign beginning next weekend. The Knights side with many changes produced an impressive second half display ahead of what could be the biggest few weeks in Doncaster Knights history.

London Welsh:15) Chris Elder, 14) James Lewis (Joe Carlisle 15’), 13) Guy Armitage, 12) Seb Jewell, 11) Nic Reynolds, 10) Olly Barkley, 9) Josh Davies (Ryan Glynn 51’), 1) Nathan Trevett, 2) Koree Britton (Nathan Morris 51’), 3) Ben Cooper (Eddie Aholelei 51’), 4) Josh McNally, 5) Matt Corker (Alex Woolford 64’), 6) Will Skuse, 7) Ryan Hodson ©, 8) Richard Thorpe (Kieran Murphy 51’). 

Replacements: 16) Nathan Morris, 17) Darryl Marfo, 18) Eddie Aholelei, 19) Alex Woolford, 20) Kieran Murphy, 21) Ryan Glynn, 22) Joe Carlisle. 

Tries; Nic Reynolds 5’, Penalty 32’, Armitage 40’, Elder 65’

Conv; Barkley 33’, 65’

Pens;

Knights: 15) Dave McIlwaine, 14) Dougie Flockhart, 13) Andy Bulumkau, 12) Bevon Armitage (Dec Cusack 71’), 11) Paul Jarvis, 10) Ollie Bryant, 9) Brad Field (Ben White 71’), 1) Rich List © (Joe Sproston 57’), 2) Vili Veikoso (Ted Stagg 30’), 3) WillGriff John (Jake Armstrong 69’), 4) Tyler Hotson (Jon Phelan 57’), 5) Glen Young, 6) Latu Makaafi, 7) Will Owen, 8) Ollie Stedman.

Replacements; 16) Ted Stagg, 17) Joe Sproston, 18) Jake Armstrong, 19) Jon Phelan, 20) Alex Shaw, 21) Dec Cusack, 22) Ben White.

Tries; Jarvis 37’, Armitage 44, Bryant 60’

Conv; Flockhart 45’, 61’

Pens;

Sin bin; Veikoso 20’, List 30’

Attendance; 1,092

Referee ; Andrew Jackson

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