Clive Griffiths Statement

After almost nine seasons in charge as Director of Rugby, it is with great sadness but also immense pride that I will say farewell to Doncaster Knights Rugby Club in May 2020.

During my time, I have been privileged to recruit and coach some wonderful players, work with dedicated coaches, management and captains whilst also enjoying the company of everyone associated with the club. All of them wonderful people.

It has been a memorable journey with numerous landmark victories, B&I Cup and Premiership Finals, play offs, a promotion, plus, it has to be said, those memorable highs mixed with some extreme tragedy.

Our supporters have been absolutely magnificent throughout and I would like to say a huge thank you to them for making the journey so much easier for me and the lads. Thanks also to John Lowe and Paul Morris who twice acted on the club’s behalf to negotiate to bring to me to Castle Park on two separate occasions.

However, pride of place and mention has to go to Messrs Lloyd and De Mulder, whose love of our club plus their unwavering financial input has allowed Doncaster Rugby to grow, flourish and enjoy the good times that we have all experienced and enjoyed.

I hold both Steve and Tony in the highest esteem.

They are gentlemen and I feel very privileged to be able to call them my friends.

A leader should know when it is time to move on – in the best interests of the club. The time is right for a new direction with a continued lineage that will serve the club well in years to come.

Steve Boden is someone who I know from my first stint at the club. The committed, no nonsense player I coached has now taken those characteristics into his coaching career and is tailor-made to continue the clubs progress on and off the field. I wish Steve, his staff and playing group all the very best for the future.

We now have several Knights players in key positions within the club, all of whom have the best interests of the club at heart. The future is bright.

Personally, I will now look forward to the next challenge wherever that may take me but as the famous saying goes, “I’ll be back”.

That said, there is still a lot of rugby to be played from now until May and the determined attitude to improve and succeed will be the same as it has been throughout my tenure.

Let the games begin!

Pob Hwyl.

Griff.

Changes at the Top

By mutual agreement, the Board of Doncaster RFC and Clive Griffiths have determined that the current season will be Clive’s last engagement as Director of Rugby at the Club.

In turn, the Directors are pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Boden as Head Coach to manage all aspects of The Knights and strive to capitalise on the many years Clive has been involved and take the Club forward into the ever changing world of professional rugby.

As all supporters and the wider rugby world will know, Clive has spent two stints at Castle Park totalling nine years at the helm. The Board of DRFC Ltd know they speak for the Club as a whole in expressing a massive thanks to him for all he has achieved during his tenure as Director of Rugby with notable highs being the resurrection of the Club from National League 1 back into the Championship; a successful British and Irish Cup campaign to get the Knights into the final; and, probably the greatest of all achievements, to play a home and away final against Bristol Rugby for promotion to the dizzy heights of Premiership League rugby – only to miss out, against the vastly more significantly funded opposition, by a couple of scores, losing at Castle Park but winning, with one of the peak performances of Clive’s reign, at Ashton Gate, Bristol.

But life has to go on and Clive’s “hard act to follow” is already determined via the promotion of Steve Boden, recently returned to the coaching team, to be Head Coach of the whole professional set up from May 2020, whilst taking charge of the creation of next season’s squad with immediate effect, with the full backing of Clive.

Steve has returned to us for his second stint after a successful playing period as Knights’ hooker making over 100 appearances for the club. The Board have every confidence that he will put his heart and soul, plus undoubted expertise, into the ongoing story of Doncaster Rugby Football Club.

To Clive we say “we will miss you and there will always be a welcome in the hillside of Doncaster”; whilst, to Steve we say “aspire high, produce the goods, and you will be given all possible backing to achieve further successes with The Knights”.

To all involved at DRFC we say “embrace the change and help to create the future.”

 

Steve Lloyd & Tony De Mulder 

 

 

 

Tyson Lewis reflects on Academy season so far

The Academy side are now in their Christmas break as they rest up ready for the next league fixture on the 22nd January.

Head Coach Tyson Lewis took time out to reflect on a fantastic first few months of the 2019/20 season as they are currently seven games unbeaten.

“I wasn’t surprised with the winning streak, but equally i wasn’t concerned after the first defeat.

It is quite an ask of the boys to jump three leagues, so there was always going to be a period of adjustment.

That first game took us a bit by surprise and was a wake up call that we needed and we’ve settled since then.”

The Knights winger believes the defeat in the opening game has spurred on the winning run as the Academy side improves with each game.

“If you look at the first game, we had a lot of work to do, we probably weren’t where we thought we were. Every game since the Liverpool defeat we have got better and better.

The league results show how well we are playing and how good we are getting.”

The Doncaster College students are currently third in the league, three points from top and in the third round of the BUCS Trophy. However, the 34-year-old is coy on whether the side are on guide to meet their expectations.

“We are a competitive bunch, we set targets at the start of the season within the group and we’ll talk about whether they are achieved or not come the end of the season.”

Knights put Carnegie to the sword

The Knights produced a fantastic away display to beat Yorkshire Carnegie 19-40 this afternoon.

Doncaster started in blistering fashion as Ollie Stedman, on his return from injury, made a great break into the Carnegie 22. The back row then offloaded to fellow forward Matt Challinor, who was quick to spot a supporting Tom James, who burst away under the posts for the first try of the game. Sam Olver converting to make the score 0-7 after three minutes.

After a good period of pressure, the away side doubled their lead when James dived over again from close range with Olver converting well, moments after missing a penalty.

The home side battled on for much of the first half, but couldn’t make it past a resilient Knights defence. Despite having the chances in the Doncaster 22, the away side’s experience shone through as they halted any Carnegie attacks for the majority of the opening 40 minutes.

A third try soon came for the Knights, when Robin Hislop made the pressure count as he barged over from close range. Olver converted well to hand a 0-21 lead after 37 minutes.

However, that dominance was soon put to halt when straight from the kick off, Tom Varndell caught the kick and burst away to score in the corner.

The second half started in a similar positive fashion as the first with an early score. This time a superb scrum resulted in a penalty try as the visitors asserted their control over the game.

Doncaster began to increase their intensity once again and scored a superb try as Steve McColl sent a superb kick over the Carnegie defence; the ball bouncing perfectly for Tyson Lewis to collect and dot down and extend Clive Griffiths’ sides lead once more.

The home side continued to fight though and scored their second try of the afternoon from a driving maul. Ryan Shaw converting to make it 12-35 after 65 minutes. That try boosted the confidence of the bottom placed side as they began to take the game to the Knights and eventually added to their tally through Sione Faletau from a pick and go.

Replacement Fotu Lokotui put the final score on the board for the Knights as he got on the end of driving maul and put the side 19-40 ahead and take the vital five points back to Castle Park.

 

KNIGHTS XV: 15. Steve McColl(71’Cowell) 14. Howard Packman 13. Lloyd Hayes 12. Charlie Foley 11. Tyson Lewis(63’Evans) 10. Sam Olver 9. Tom James(70’Pocklington) 1. Robin Hislop(53’Thomas) 2. Ben Hunter(59’Edgson) 3. Colin Quigley(53’Suter) 4. Matt Challinor © 5. Rory Pitman(67’Sproston) 6. Tom Calladine(66’Lokotui) 7. Wian Conradie 8. Ollie Stedman

Replacements: 16. George Edgson 17. Marc Thomas 18. Dan Suter 19. Fotu Lokotui 20. Joe Sproston 21. Sam Pocklington 22. Cameron Cowell 23. Kyle Evans

Tries: James 2, Hislop, Penalty Try, Lewis, Lokotui  Conversions: Olver 4

Yorkshire Carnegie XV: 15. James Robins 14. Andrew Lawson 13. Tom Varndell 12. Dan Lancaster 11. Ryan Shaw 10. Joe Ford (c) 9. James Elliot 1. Conor Davidson 2. Adam Brown 3. Gareth Smith 4. Jake Brady (c) 5. Ed Bloodworth 6. Trystan Llloyd 7. Alex Humfrey 8. Guy Graham

Replacements: 16. Ben Sugars 17. Trae O’Sullivan 18. Sione Faletau 19. William Smith 20. Thomas Whitehurst 21. Will Findlay 22. Joe Carlisle 23. Jack Metcalfe

Tries: Varndell, Brown, Faletau Conversions: Shaw 2

Match Day guide at Yorkshire Carnegie

The Knights are back in Championship action on Sunday in a derby game with local rivals Yorkshire Carnegie at the Headingley Stadium.

Here is a guide to the fixture in Leeds.

Yorkshire Carnegie v Doncaster Knights – Sunday 22nd December (ko 3pm) @ Emerald Headingley Stadium

Competition – Greene King IPA Championship

Venue – Emerald Headingley Stadium, St. Michael’s Lane, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 3BR

Turnstile Opening Time – Entry is via St Michaels Lane Turnstiles only and these will open at 2pm. Cash turnstiles will be available on match day.

Ticket Office – Leeds Rugby Ticket Office will open from 1pm on match day for ticket sales and collections.

Ticket Prices – Tickets are priced at £15 for Adults, £10 for Concessions (Senior Citizens 65 & over and students) and Juniors (16 and under) will be free. Tickets for matches will be for general admission and will allow access to sit in the unreserved seating areas in the North Stand (along the side of the pitch – excludes the Directors’ Box seating) or stand in the Extentia Terrace (behind the posts, undercover). The wheelchair area is in front of the Extentia Terrace behind the posts. Disabled supporters are entitled to a concession priced ticket and a free companion ticket upon production of the necessary disabled and companion ID.

How to buy tickets in advance – Tickets can be purchased online via tickets.yorkshirecarnegie.com, by contacting the ticket office by calling 0371 423 1315 or in person at Emerald Headingley Stadium. Leeds Rugby Ticket Office is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm or Saturdays 9am-12noon.

Programmes – There will be a free team sheet available on match day from the ticket office and the North Stand concourse bars.

Parking – Limited parking at Emerald Headingley Stadium is first come, first served in Car Park F. This is charged at £5 per car on match day (Blue Badge holders are free).

Food and Drink – There will be food concession unit outside the ticket office which will serve hot food including pies, pasties and peas and the North Stand concourse bar will serve pies and pasties along with hot and cold drinks. The Café Bar food service will no longer be available on match day however there will be a bar open throughout the game serving hot and cold drinks.

Post-Match – After the game, fans are invited to join the Yorkshire Carnegie players and coaching staff in the Extentia Stand Café Bar.

TEAM NEWS | Knights look to return to winning ways in Carnegie clash

The Knights make their shortest trip of the season when they face Yorkshire Carnegie in Leeds on Sunday in a Championship fixture (3pm KO).

Both sides will be eager to claim the victory with neither outfit having won in their last five matches.

However last time out, Doncaster showed an impressive fighting spirit in the second half against Hartpury as they scored four tries overall and progressed through to the knockout stages of the Championship Cup.

In the league, Clive Griffiths’ side will be looking to build on their two victories already this season against Bedford Blues and Hartpury as they aim to stretch the current seven-point gap from Carnegie to 11 by Sunday evening.

While Yorkshire Carnegie have gained one point in the league this season season, while also exiting the cup, they will look to raise their game for the derby fixture.

In the 2019/20 Championship campaign, the home side lost 45-12 to Hartpury in their last league game, while their highest away defeat has been 13-66 to second placed Ealing Trailfinders.

On the injury front, the Knights have some welcomed news with the return of two former Carnegie players in Ollie Stedman and Matt Smith.

Unfortunately, Jack Roberts was withdrawn from last weekend’s game with injury and is unavailable along with Dougie Flockhart, Pete Lucock, Tom Hicks and Sam Jones.

Amongst the replacements, Kyle Evans and Sam Pocklington return to the squad.

KNIGHTS XV:

  1. Steve McColl 14. Howard Packman 13. Lloyd Hayes 12. Charlie Foley 11. Tyson Lewis 10. Sam Olver 9. Tom James 1. Robin Hislop 2. Ben Hunter 3. Colin Quigley4. Matt Challinor © 5. Matt Smith 6. Ollie Stedman 7. Wian Conradie 8. Rory Pitman

Replacements:

  1. George Edgson
  2. Marc Thomas
  3. Dan Suter
  4. Fotu Lokotui
  5. Tom Calladine
  6. Sam Pocklington
  7. Cameron Cowell
  8. Kyle Evans

Howard Packman previews Carnegie contest

The Knights make their shortest trip of the season when they face Yorkshire Carnegie in Leeds on Sunday in a Championship fixture.

With Howard Packman believing the Knights will be ready and raring to go in the derby game.

“We had a meeting on Tuesday, where we set out exactly what we want to do and get out of this week leading into Christmas.

We are more focused and we’ve had a look at the ways we want improve so we will be 100% come the weekend.”

The winger was named the Twitter Fans’ Man of the Match for his performance against Hartpury last weekend, but was overall frustrated with the result.

“We are disappointed with the result of course, we let ourselves down as well as the coaches and fans that traveled. It wasn’t what we wanted to put on as we go back into the Championship and start that momentum.

We will definitely pick it up for this week. As for the Fans’ Man of the Match, i think i have more family member than the other three, so that is probably why i got it.”

The 24-year-old joined arrived at Castle Park just last month from New Zealand side North Otago and has made to feel at home in Doncaster.

“It has been very good so far, the boys have helped me settle in nicely. I was living with Kyle (Evans) he was driving to and from training until i got sorted.

From there Sam and George have been just looking after me, the coaches have been very welcoming as well and I have really enjoyed the first few weeks here.”

 

 

 

Castle Park hosted the PFG Christmas Lunch

Doncaster Knights held the People Focused Group Christmas Lunch on Monday, as 180 people enjoyed a three course festive meal at Castle Park.

The PFG is made up of people who live in Doncaster and have experience of mental illness, poor health, disability or difficult times. They originally came together as a small group to help each other to create more personalised support solutions to benefit themselves within the community, which now has a larger impact with local authorities helping and assisting.

Doncaster players Joe Sproston, Tyson Lewis, Charlie Foley, Matt Smith and Tom Hicks were at the event presenting the donated raffle prizes from LSA Meats, L&H Cairns and Son, Moore’s Bakery, Coptrins and many more, while dozens of PFG members were delighted with Donny the Knights surprise appearance on a great occasion for everyone at the Christmas Lunch.

Commercial Manger at Doncaster Knights, Michael Casey said: “It was an absolute pleasure to be able to host the People Focused Group Christmas party at Castle Park. Staff and members of the Knights first team all joined in & it was a really happy & community spirited afternoon.

We have been working alongside the People Focused Group (PFG) for a few months now and the support they offer to people in our community is amazing and is actually quite overwhelming.

We are really looking forward to forging closer ties with PFG in 2020 along with some of the other fantastic community interest groups operating locally.”

Howard Packman named Twitter Fans’ MOTM against Hartpury

Howard Packman was voted the Twitter Fans’ Man of the Match for his performance against Hartpury as the Knights secured their place in the Championship Cup quarter-final draw.

The 24-year-old made the most post contact metres as well line breaks and tacklebreaks in an impressive display from the speedster.

The winger won the Twitter Fans’ MOTM prize with 39% of the vote ahead of second and try scorer Tyson Lewis (30%), third Rory Pitman (18%), who also dotted down and fourth Wian Conradie (14%).

You can watch Howard and the rest of the Knights in Championship action this Sunday as they face Yorkshire Carnegie in Leeds.

Knights drawn away to Nottingham in Cup Quarter-finals

The Knights will travel to Nottingham in the Championship Cup Quarter-finals on Friday 21st February, 7.45pm kick off.

Doncaster advanced through on points difference as the second best third placed team, ahead of Amphtill who also won two group games.

Our last meeting with Nottingham ended in a narrow victory for the away side at Castle Park in February, however on our travels to the Lady Bay the Knights have fared much better.

Despite a defeat in the previous contest in Nottinghamshire, three away wins in the league going back to 2015 will give the side confidence of progressing into the semi-finals.

The rest of the draw for the knockout stages has Newcaste Falcons v London Scottish, Ealing Trailfinders v Jersey Reds & Cornish Pirates v Coventry.

 

 

Supporters Coach for Yorkshire Carnegie league game

The Knights travel to Leeds on Sunday to face Yorkshire Carnegie as we return to Championship action looking to end the year with a victory.

For all those looking to make the short trip and support Doncaster then book your place on the supporters coach.

It will be leaving Buckley’s garage at noon and after the usual stops in Branton, Cantley and Armthorpe, the coach should arrive at Castle Park at 12.30pm. From there, it will pick up opposite the Winning Post at about 12.45pm before heading north.

Return tickets for adults will be £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.

The game kicks off at 3pm with the coach set to depart for a return journey at 6pm. Please text John Lowe on 07977 112706 if you’re interested.