Ian Fraser

We regret to announce that long serving Club member Ian Fraser has passed away after an illness bravely fought.  We offer our deepest sympathy to his wife Mollie and his two daughters Laura and Lucy.

“Fraz” joined the club in 1967 and had been a member ever since, firstly as a player and then as a supporter.

He was one of the Club’s true characters and his rendition of the song Startrekking, accompanied by vivid actions, kept everyone amused in the bar after matches both home and away.  “Fraz” rarely missed a match and loved his long weekends in Jersey and Cornwall with the Knights. Since the start of the leagues he kept a record of all the 1stn XV’s results and ongoing league position in a little red book, one for each season.

He will be sorely missed by his family and friends.

Young talent retained as Holling & Pocklington extend.

The Club are delighted to announce that Academy graduates Will Holling & Sam Pocklington will continue their development at Castle Park having agreed new one-year contracts.

Hooker Will Holling made his competitive debut for the Knights against Newcastle Falcons and shone in what was a tricky evening for the Knights in the North East.

The 22-year-old was voted the Knights Twitter Man of the Match with an eye catching display and says he is buzzing to have agreed a new deal with his boyhood Club “I’m very excited to be signing on for another year with the Knights; being a Donny lad makes it even more special for me.

“I’ve enjoyed my first season in professional rugby and learnt a lot from the lads and the coaches. It’s been a disappointing way for the season to come to an end but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in again as soon as possible.”

Nephew to former Doncaster RFC scrum half Simon Greenslade, Holling has progressed right through from the Club’s mini section.

The Donny born youngster made 15 first team appearances in 2019/20 amidst stiff competition in the number two jersey and incoming Director of Rugby Steve Boden believes Will can flourish in a Knights jersey.  “I’m really happy that Will has committed his immediate future to us at Doncaster Knights.

“We see a huge amount of growth and potential in his ability and his attitude is exactly what we are looking for.”

Sam Pocklington signed his first senior contract following a stunning couple of seasons with the Academy and Doncaster Phoenix.

The 21-year-old has continued to impress this term in the pro ranks with a solid debut campaign, making 15 appearances including starts in the victories over London Scottish and Jersey Reds.

Sam’s performances have earned him many plaudits along with a new contract, something the scrum half was keen to agree. “Signing for another season was an easy decision for me; the Club have supported me very well through my first year of professional rugby.

“The facilities are second to none, the coaching set up is bang on and the fans are incredible. I can’t wait to get back out playing rugby for Donny next season.”

Injuries to Tom James in the second half of the 2019/20 season saw Pocklington lay his own claim to the Knights number nine jersey and Boden says he is well-placed make the position his own. “It’s great to work with Sam again for another year, he has made huge strides this year transitioning from Academy rugby to Championship level.

“It’s going to be exciting to see how Sam evolves his game again in a new environment next season and relishes the competition in his position.”

The 2020/21 DoR went on to praise the work being done in the Club’s rugby development department who have been integral in both player’s progress thus far. “Both signings carry significance for the Club on a holistic level as we are really reaping the fruits of the Academy staff’s labour.

“We are producing home grown players ready to challenge in the Championship, proving that the rugby pathway at Castle Park is really working well.”

Stand by your Club | Doncaster Rugby Club & Castle Park.

In accordance with Government requirements, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Castle Park was closed on Friday, 20th March 2020 for an unknown period of time. As a result, Doncaster RFC has no current sources of income from either rugby matches or non-rugby events.

The Directors and Management staff of The Club are determined to get through this unprecedented event and ensure that Rugby for All will re-commence when circumstances dictate.

Championship rugby is, of course, already facing challenging and uncertain times due to severe funding cuts over the next 2 years and the present “shut down” has added significantly to the financial difficulties.

For the Club to survive this period of lock down, which, expert opinion suggests, could last months rather than days or weeks, we need all possible support. We ask, therefore, that those with outstanding bookings waive requests for refunds, as a donation to the Club, or, if necessary, reschedule when we are able to operate again fully.

Similarly, to our loyal members with season tickets, we hope that you will understand that no refunds can be made for cancelled matches.

The Club will provide further information as it becomes available but, in the meantime, we hope that you and your families are keeping safe and look forward to welcoming you back to Castle Park in the near future.

DRFC statement to all members and supporters

On Friday last, 20th March, it was confirmed that league and cup rugby below the Premiership will be halted for the remainder of the current season due to the significant and, potentially, long lasting effects and restrictions of the Coronavirus epidemic.

To be clear, all of the Championship clubs were consulted on the issue prior to announcement and by far the majority agreed that it was the only solution available to allow all concerned to take a realistic view of club finances in the wake of cancelled games and the almost total withdrawal, in our own case, of non-rugby events at Castle Park. All facilities are now closed until further notice.

To continue with ongoing delays would have quickly taken the season past the 31st May 2020, even in the very unlikely event that the Government would allow the recommencement of all events in the UK by that date. This presented an impossible challenge as players would be out of existing contracts and the negative effect on budgets would have only increased.

Questions have been asked why the Premiership league are being allowed to continue under a postponement with a continuing intention to recommence the current season as soon as possible. However, PRL administer that league and, therefore, it is out of the RFU’s hands to also terminate the Premiership. Time will tell, but expert opinion throughout the world is convinced that the crisis will continue for months and not weeks.

As a result of the above, Doncaster RFC, in common with all other clubs and businesses, is reviewing its options to maintain financial viability. The Government statement of support issued on Friday evening provides potential assistance but it will take some time for the detail to be clarified.

In the meantime, we hope that you and your families are keeping safe and virus free.

With best wishes

Steve Lloyd, President and Tony DeMulder, Executive Chairman

RFU end 2019/20 Championship season

The RFU Chief Executive Bill Sweeney has issued the following statement announcing that the 2019/20 Championship season is now over along with all league, cup and county rugby in England with the exception of the Gallagher Premiership.

 

My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19 as well as recent flooding events, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community.

In order to provide clarity and to assist with immediate and longer term planning, the RFU is today announcing the end of the 2019/20 rugby season for all league, cup and county rugby in England. The only exception to this is the Gallagher Premiership, who we are in active discussions with to review possible best next steps.

When current government advice on social distancing measures changes, we will naturally encourage rugby training and friendlies to recommence.
I would like to personally thank everyone for their swift actions in suspending rugby activity, this is not an easy time and I know many of you will have concerns that go beyond the game.

We are working through the implications of ending the season early and have instigated a thorough process to ensure fair and balanced outcomes for the game. We will communicate these outcomes by the middle of April. While we would like to provide all the answers now, we need some time to get it right for the best interests of the game. Rest assured we are working on this as a priority and we will continue to send weekly updates to clubs.

The three areas of focus for the RFU right now are Welfare, Implications and Reboot.

Welfare

We are ensuring colleagues and communities are given support to follow government advice and are providing recommendations on how to stay fit and healthy using individual training programmes. We are also talking to government about how we can deploy and mobilise our own resources across England to support the vulnerable.

Implications

Every union is different, with unique structures and challenges and the RFU needs to manage its own particular complexities. Our business model is similar to most rugby clubs – we earn revenue from events on and off the field and we invest that back into the game. We benefit from strong Twickenham Stadium revenues but we are also exposed if there is widespread cancellation of games and events.

In this extraordinary situation we are working through a range of potential financial scenarios dependent mainly on the length of this crisis. This was already budgeted to be a loss making year within a 4 year cycle due to the costs of the 2019 RWC campaign and only hosting two home Six Nations games. The loss will now be considerably more as we face challenges similar to businesses across the entire country. There may well also be much longer term financial implications which we are assessing now. It is therefore taking us some time to develop a considered position on how we can support clubs and the rugby community, which we will do.

We have already undertaken financial measures to safeguard the business enabling us to review all options and programmes to provide support for clubs in these difficult times.

We welcome the measures announced by Government which could provide crucial support to professional and community clubs and the RFU. We are in regular contact with Sport England and The Sport and Recreation Alliance to understand how business rate relief and hardship funds can be accessed by clubs and will be providing assistance to make sure every club who is eligible will be supported.

The implications for all areas of rugby will be thoroughly worked through and solutions discussed and developed with the clubs.

Reboot

Our welfare advice before the start of next season will switch to offering guidance on how players at all levels can reboot and get match ready.

We will work closely with constituent bodies to support clubs, competition organisers and the wider rugby community in preparing to re-start rugby in what is likely to be a challenging environment.

In recent days we have all been inspired by the many stories across the rugby family working together to support those who are the most vulnerable in their community – this encapsulates the unique spirit of rugby. I am confident that this spirit and resilience during these tough times will ensure we will come through this together and emerge stronger.

Take care and stay safe,

Bill Sweeney

RE-SIGNING | Matt Challinor to stay at Castle Park for next season

The club are delighted to announce the second re-signing of the 2020/21 season as Matt Challinor, with the forward signing a new one-year-deal at Castle Park.

Having made over 250th appearances for the Knights, Matt will enter his 11th campaign in a Doncaster shirt next season.

Chall was pleased to be staying with the club for another season.

“I have been here 10 years, it is club which i think is going forward. The set up next season and the plans are something i want to be a part of.

We will aim to be more consistent next season and be further up the table then we currently are.

On a personal level i want to be staying fit and continue to contribute to the side.”

The lock is involved with coaching the Academy, who recently won the BUCS Northern 1A title and was one the reasons he stayed.

“On the rugby side of things it was an easy decision to make, although i am getting to that age now where i have to think about my future and there were some opportunities, but in the end i am enjoying playing for Doncaster and wanted to continue at the club.”

Steve Boden, who will become Head Coach at the end of the season, was delighted to have Matt in his playing squad for next season.

“I am really happy to have Matt on board for another year. He has over 250 games for the club and reason for that is he is a consistent performer.

I think he is everything that we want in a Doncaster environment, he is tough, abrasive and competitive and he is cares for the club.

I have known him for many years having played with him and he has the characteristics i want Doncaster Knights to be be associated with.”

Past Players Event Postponed

We are sad to announce that the annual DRFC Past Players event on April 25th will no longer take place on the date scheduled.

At this moment it is unclear whether matches will be rescheduled after the official suspension date (April 14th) and following discussions with the event organisers we have taken the decision to postpone the lunch, with a view to rescheduling once the picture is a little clearer.

We would like to be clear that at this moment in time our fixture with Ampthill RUFC on April 25th is still on, however, it is a very fluid situation that could change at short notice.

Any bookings that have been made & paid for will be valid for when the event does take place. We appreciate everyone’s support and patience during these uncertain times.

Phoenix Report | Kendo pleased with reaction in Broadstreet victory

Director of Rugby Development Glen Kenworthy was delighted to see the reaction he called for from Doncaster Phoenix, as they bounced back to winning ways on Saturday.

Phoenix secured an excellent 52-14 win over the Broadstreet with eight tries in a fantastic display at Castle Park.

Kendo gave his thoughts on the game:

“It was a good day, eight tries at home you can’t ask for much more than that. Will Smith played really well and has done so for most of the season.

The best part of the win was to see the reaction from the defeat to Burton, we showed a lot of character and played with good intensity for the majority of the game.”

The Midlands Premier side have won four of their last seven home games in a good turn of form since early December.

“Our home form this season has been a positive and i believe that is down to the advantage of having an AGP pitch. It is tough on the body, but the boys like playing on it as it is the same dimensions as pitch 1 and we feel we can stretch the opposition defence and it has given us the chance to score very, very good tries.”

Kendo has now been in his new role since the start of the season and is enjoying the challenge.

“It is new to me and it is a challenge. The Academy are flying and it is fantastic to see how they have progressed and deservedly have won the title.

Also at my coaching role in the Yorkshire U20s it is great to see James Boyd-Bell and Elliot Webb progress into that team from the Academy and they both played in a good win recently.”

Doncaster Knights Ticketing & Hospitality update

Please see below the current situation regarding tickets to the currently suspended home games with Yorkshire Carnegie and Newcastle Falcons.

Tickets: At this stage it is unclear whether the matches will be rescheduled post 14th April, but any tickets purchased will be valid for rearranged fixtures should they get played at a later date. The same applies to season ticket holders. We will send out further updates regarding the status of games as and when we receive such information.

It is important not to visit the ticket office in person for obvious reasons. However, if you have an queries please contact Michael Casey, email mcasey@@castle-park.co.uk or telephone 07814678213 (Monday – Friday 9am – 4.30pm).

Hospitality: For any hospitality bookings the same applies as per the tickets position, with our contact also being Commercial Manager Michael Casey.

Castle Park Notice to all Customers

NOTICE TO ALL CUSTOMERS:

Due to the current COVID 19 outbreak across the world and recent Government Guidelines regarding public safety we have had large scale cancellations of events here at Castle Park for the next 2 weeks.

You may also be aware that the RFU have suspended all Rugby activity until at least 14th April 2020, which means there are no players or playing personnel on site either. For this reason we have taken the decision to close the site on days in which we have no events booked, for the safety of our staff and customers.

However, we are by no means closed for business and all of our staff members can still be contacted off site on company mobiles and email addresses. We are not actively enforcing closures on any private functions booked with us at present, and indeed some hosts have chosen to proceed with their events in the coming weeks, in which case we will be opening the site up for business as usual.

Every necessary procedure is in place to protect both our staff and customers during this difficult time and we will continue to provide the very best service possible to our community. If you are at all worried about an event you have booked with us or would like to check availability for a future booking please get in touch with our events team on 01302 831388 or email events@castle-park.co.uk.