Sam Olver is enjoying being a permanent Knights signing during pre-season

Sam Olver has a different feeling coming to Castle Park this season with the fly-half now enjoying life as a permanent signing with the Knights.

The 24-year-old put pen to paper on a permeant deal in February after joining initially on loan from Ealing Trailfinders and is now relishing his time in Doncaster.

“It is a different feeling being a permanent player here, it is great coming in to pre-season not as a loanee, where you feel you can’t have too much of a say, so it is good to be one of the actual players and being able to voice my opinion so that is a nice change.”

The fly-half has been putting the hard yards in as the Knights improve their fitness ready for the first friendly on Friday 16th August against Bridgend Ravens.

“It has been a good start to pre-season, it is a fairly long old pre-season this year with the World Cup and everything, the boys are enjoying it and the new lads have come in and done really well and it is good to get into the grit of the rugby side now.”

This season the Knights have a longer period of time to prepare for the opening game against Hartpury on the 21st September in the RFU Championship Cup. While Sam believes this extra time will only help the squad.

“I think it should help us prepare more but it is going to be the same for everyone we’ve all got a longer pre-season, there has been a lot of running to get the boys into shape but as I’ve said before we are into the main part of the rugby now so hopefully we can move forward and improve with that.”

Sam Pocklington embracing the step up to the Knights

 Sam Pocklington is eight weeks into life as a full-time Doncaster player and has been embracing the step up from the Academy and Doncaster Phoenix as he learns from his fellow scrum-halfs Tom James and Reiss Cullen.

The youngster signed his first professional contract at the end of March after impressing for the Academy and was a pivotal part of their success last season, winning a league and cup double for the side.

The 20-year-old also made his debut in Doncaster colours in a friendly against Sale Sharks at the end of August, as well as coming on for the closing stages in the Championship cup clash with Yorkshire Carnegie.

Sam started his first pre-season as a professional player in June and has enjoyed the challenge so far.

“It’s been really good, obviously it is a step up from the Academy but it is a really good challenge that I am enjoying, we’ve done a lot of fitness testing and we’re getting into more rugby shape now so it is all coming together very nicely.”

The Academy star has also been learning from his fellow scrum-halfs, Tom James who was the top try scorer for the Knights last season and Reiss Cullen, who signed from Premiership side Bristol Bears in the summer; as he looks to compete for a starting place in the Knights’ squad when the season begins on the 21st September against Hartpury.

“It’s really good to have the competition for places with TJ (Tom James) here last year and Reiss joining this season from a Premiership club so we have been bouncing ideas off each other and I’ve been learning a lot from the two older lads.”

For now, the youngster has set his sights on the upcoming Knights friendly with Bridgend Ravens on the 16th August, as he targets some playing time in a Donny shirt.

“I am definitely looking forward to the game with Bridgend, hopefully I can get some game time and show the boys and the coaches what I can do, obviously I played a game in the cup last year and hopefully I can follow on from that.”

Robin Hislop is aiming to make Castle Park a fortress this season

Robin Hislop is aiming to make Castle Park a fortress this season as the Knights begin the 2019/20 campaign at home against Hartpury on the 21st September.

“I think we were disappointed at home last season, so we will look to get off to a good start and hopefully make Castle Park a really difficult place for away teams to come and visit.”

The prop has been pleased with pre-season so far and has seen himself as well as the rest of the Knights improve over the last seven weeks.

“It has been a good pre-season but tough and enjoyable it’s been most enjoyable for the lads that have come in in decent condition, we are progressing well and our fitness is improving so that’s positive.

There has definitely been an improvement, like I say it has been really tough, last season wasn’t what we wanted so standards have been raised a little bit and we’ve all had to work really hard to reach them and that is something we are still working towards getting to.”

The Knights now have their eyes set firmly on the horizon as the first friendly against Bridgend Ravens is only three weeks away. A trip that the 26-year-old is excited to make and return to playing rugby again.

“I think we will look forward to it and it’ll be good to play someone that isn’t in our league and have a decent trip to Wales for the training camp, but I think we are just focusing on having a really good pre-season and that doesn’t end until the 21st September.”

 

Charlie Foley happy to be starting the season at Castle Park

Charlie Foley is pleased the Knights will be starting the 2019/20 campaign at Castle Park in an ‘exciting fixture’ with Hartpury on the 21st September.

“It’s always nice to win at home and doing that at home would make it even better, Hartpury are a good side, we had some good games against them last season, particularly the home game actually, we left it very late to win.

I think starting the season at home is always a good way to start.”

The 28-year-old has been impressed with his fellow Knights during pre-season as the squad build on their fitness ready for the first friendly next month.

“Yes it’s been good so far, we’ve had a bit of down time which was needed last week and we’ve come back in and finished the yo-yo test which isn’t always the most fun but so far so good.

I think at the minute, it is about focusing on fitness and skills, we’ll start to bring a bit more rugby into things as the weeks go on, but the boys are looking sharp and like I said we have just re-tested and from what I know we’ve done fairly well.”

Doncaster travel to Wales for a training camp in August, with a friendly organised with Welsh Premiership side Bridgend Ravens as the Knights look to begin the pre-season games with a victory.

Charlie believes the match is a driving factor to continue the hard work with the trip across the Severn Bridge now only three weeks away.

“Everyone looks forward to playing games ultimately, it seems such a long way away when you first come back for pre-season in June, but now the first game is on the horizon and we can really start to look forward to it.”

Glen Kenworthy named Yorkshire U20s Head Coach

Glen Kenworthy has been named as Head Coach of the Yorkshire U20s after four successful years as Assistant.

The club’s Director of Rugby Development was delighted to have been appointed after a number of years working with the age group.

“I was Assistant for four years and when the role become vacant, I knew it was something I wanted to do, it is an age that I love coaching and I really wanted to get back involved so I applied and after the interview and selection process I was delighted to get the role.

I have won the Jason Leonard Cup with the Yorkshire 20s four times already and I am look forward to trying to build on that to win it again, I will also be coaching the U19 development squad as I look to identify and mentor players through to the 20s playing squad.”

Kendo is now involved in progressing the Academy players into the first-team and has been thrilled with the comments from the Knights’ coaching staff after a number of the youngsters have trained with the senior squad during pre-season.

“The Academy players are back in on the 12th August and will ready themselves for the BUCS and AOC campaigns. We have had 8 academy boys training with the Knights and there has been some good positive feedback from the Knights’ coaches.”

Another link that the 44-year-old is looking to develop is progressing the club’s semi-professional side Doncaster Phoenix, as they aim to push to the top end of the Midlands Premier, level five of the English Rugby Union system. 

“The numbers at the Doncaster Phoenix training are encouraging and are growing each week which is pleasing as we look to improve on last season, there are a few new faces and the squad is looking to be building shape nicely.”

The former Doncaster Knights player has also been building the exposure and awareness of the club after visiting schools in the area with coaching set to start in September.

“I have been into a selection of schools throughout the South Yorkshire region, as the club looks to build links and promote its brand.

We now have secured links with Mount St Marys, Worksop college, Birkdale and Hill house school.

We also have a Rugby development camp coming up on August 12th for a three-day period which will give the young men attending an insight of what it takes to be a full-time professional rugby player here at Castle park.

Hopefully this will be a successful model and expand for future seasons.

Finally I will be starting a regional development player pathway for U13 and U15 age groups. These training groups will allow nominated players from local schools and clubs to come to Castle Park enjoy the facilities, learn new skills and receive quality tuition from our coaching team, the starting dates will be confirmed soon.”

Academy begin the new season at Castle Park

The Academy were promoted three leagues to the BUCS Northern 1A after an independent assessment and now their opposition for next season has been confirmed. 

Head Coach Tyson Lewis will have to prepare his side to face Keele 1st, Liverpool 1st, Newcastle 2nd Northumbria 2nd, Durham 3rd and Durham 4th as the Academy look to build on last season’s success. 

Here are how those teams got on last year and what the Academy can expect when the new season gets underway in October.

Keele 1st – Won the Northern 2A league due to a superior points difference of 207, while only losing one league game and managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Northern Conference Cup.

Liverpool 1st– The Merseyside university finished second by a point in Northern 1A last season after only losing two games in the league. The side lost in the Trophy competition 32-7 to eventual winners Glasgow 1st and gained promotion back in the 2016/17 campaign to Northern 1A.

Newcastle 2nd – The Northern side ended their season in third place in the Northern 1A after seven wins and three defeats. The team has been one of the most consistent sides in the league, having been promoted in the 2013/14 campaign. However, they exited the cup in the first-round last season.

Northumbria 2nd – Another university based in the North East, they won promotion from Northern 2B last season after eight wins and just two defeats as well as an impressive points difference of 319. The team also won the Northern Conference Cup by beating York 1st 25-24.

Durham 3rd – The university side were relegated from North B after finishing 6th with four wins and seven defeats. The team haven’t been in the Northern 1A since the 2015/16 season.

Durham 4th – A similar progression to the Academy with five straight promotions from Northern 5B starting in the 2011/12 season. Last season the side finished 4th in Northern 1A, one place from relegation albeit 11 points as they won four games, losing six.

The Academy will begin the 2019/20 campaign with a home fixture against Liverpool 1st on the 2nd October before travelling to Keele near Stoke for the first away match of the season.  

The provisional dates for the BUCS Northern 1A fixtures are below:

02/10/2019

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

Liverpool Men’s 1

16/10/2019

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Keele Men’s 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

30/10/2019

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

Durham Men’s 3

06/11/2019

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Durham Men’s 4

Doncaster Men’s 1

13/11/2019

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

Northumbria Men’s 2

27/11/2019

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Newcastle Men’s 2

Doncaster Men’s 1

04/12/2019

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Liverpool Men’s 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

22/01/2020

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

Keele Men’s 1

29/01/2020

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Durham Men’s 3

Doncaster Men’s 1

12/02/2020

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

Durham Men’s 4

26/02/2020

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Northumbria Men’s 2

Doncaster Men’s 1

11/03/2020

League

Men’s Northern Tier 1

Doncaster Men’s 1

Newcastle Men’s 2

Start of season lunch on the 21st September

Rugby is returning to Castle Park! After what seems like forever the Knights will begin the 2019/20 campaign with an RFU Championship cup game with Hartpury on the 21st September.

Before the game, fans can watch the exciting clash between South Africa and New Zealand in a World Cup group stage match on the opening weekend of the tournament. There will be a breakfast and a beer on offer for just £5 in the Lansdowne suite with no need to book your place; all are welcome.

Castle Park will be open from 10am, with the match starting at 10.30am and after you have watched the Springboks face the All Blacks you can enjoy our Start of Season Lunch! 

The first pre-match lunch of the season will only be £9! Dining will begin at 12.30 for a 1pm start in the Armspark suite.

The menu will be the famous Castle Park homemade Cow Pie served with chips, mushy peas, mint sauce & gravy, book now by calling 01302 831388!   

Club Statement | Richard Gray

It is with deep sadness and regret that the club has to announce the loss of the Doncaster Knights mini juniors u12 (Doncaster Lancers) team manager, Richard Gray.

Richard had suffered a challenging period of illness over many months. Despite the gravity of his situation, in the face of this adversity, he resolved to fight hard and continue in his role throughout a series of setbacks.

Richard believed wholeheartedly in the endeavour of bringing people together under the banner of our sport, was highly sociable and always had something supportive to say in the mini junior club meetings, which won’t be the same without him.

He will be greatly missed by all of us at the club, his team and his family, to whom we extend our sincere sympathy.

Richard’s funeral is to be held at Rose Hill Crematorium on Monday 29th July at 10.20am. Donations will be collected for Weston Park Hospital and Cancer Research.

Reiss Cullen named the fastest Knight

New signing Reiss Cullen has started pre-season like lighting as the scrum-half has earned the title of the fastest player at the club.

From the beginning of new campaign, the Knights have been receiving sprint coaching from Anthony Browne, as the players look to increase their explosiveness and overall speed.

The backs were recorded at the beginning of the season in a number of speed tests over various distances from 10m,20m, 30m and 40m. 10 points was awarded the fastest player down to 1 point for the slowest and after all the races it was the 22-year-old speedster Reiss Cullen that claimed the crown with 57 points, beating Cameron Cowell with 52 points.

Notably, the former Bristol Bear number 9 recorded an impressive time of 5.27seconds over 40m, with Cameron second with 5.36secs and Tyson Lewis third with 5.40secs.

All the races and times will be recorded again at the end of pre-season to compare the improvement of the players.

 

Loyalty Card holders can now win a pitcher of beer at every game

For those Doncaster fans that have a Loyalty Card, you now have the chance of winning a pitcher of beer at every Knights home game.

Whether you’re a season ticket holder or member with a loyalty card, one fan will be chosen at random from their loyalty card number and win a free pitcher of beer.

Loyalty cards are free to fans that purchase the £50 club membership, which rewards the Doncaster supporters with discounts on the bar and food counters as well as 5% off one matchday lunch and room hire at Castle Park.

For more information on our Club Membership click here – https://bit.ly/2JSoWpY

Season Ticket holders can also get a loyalty card, which will cost £50, that will then go on the loyalty card as credit.

Clive Griffiths is pleased with the Knights progress after 6 weeks of pre-season

Clive Griffiths has put the Knights through their paces in the first six weeks of pre-season and has been delighted with the results after the opening block of training has come to an end.

“Pre-season has gone very well, the boys have worked extremely hard and we’ve worked extra hard this year to go with what we want to change on the field and the game we want to play both offensive and defensively, they are putting the work in and certainly we will be ready with enough juice in the tanks to get us through what will be a tough season.”

The Director of Rugby has been thrilled that his targets have been met in the opening stages of pre-season and that the Knights are looking in shape ready for the first friendly in just under one months time.

“Pretty much our aims have been met, so the main basis of our sessions has been conditioning and skills but we have gradually integrated some rugby structures as well in the offense and defence so we will be fairly well ready for when the first warm up game comes at Bridgend on August 16th.”

On the injury front, George Edgson, Jack Roberts and Ollie Stedman are all on course as expected and Clive is hopeful they will be back in full training in just two weeks-time. However, Griff spoke of the loss of Tom Calladine, who picked up an ankle injury last week.

“They’re doing good, they are on course to get back towards the end of July into full training and they are starting to do rehabilitation exercises and they are on course to hit that date.

Unfortunately, Tom Calladine picked up a nasty ankle injury last week, it doesn’t require surgery, but it will be a three-month rehabilitation. It is unfortunate for Tom but he’ll be back for the main part of the Championship season and other than that it is a hive of activity, we are all on course and I am absolutely delighted with how it is progressing at the moment in time.”

The Knights travel to Wales for a training camp in August, which will see the squad watch the Quilter International match between Wales and England the day after the opening friendly of pre-season against Welsh Premiership side Bridgend Ravens, a side he is expecting a close battle with.

“They will bring blood and thunder, I coached their current coach Steve Jones, who is an excellent guy and a wonderful player as well and I know from the way he played that it’ll be a very committed performance from Bridgend, particularly on a Friday night at Brewery Field, having been there myself many years ago and had some tough encounters.

Any game when you cross the Severn Bridge is going to be a close one, so it is a good start for us and with the International the next day that we are going to watch it is going to be a very good training camp I feel.”