Centre Best snapped up for new season.

Following a quiet couple of months on the transfer front Doncaster Knights are delighted to announce the signing of centre Mark Best from Jersey Reds.

The 26-year-old arrives in Yorkshire having spent three seasons on the Island with the Reds where he made over fifty appearances despite an injury setback interrupting his 2019/20 campaign.

The hard-hitting Belfast native left his homeland in 2017 having developed through the ranks with Pro14 heavyweights Ulster spending two seasons with the senior squad.

Mark also gained representative honours with Ireland at Under 18 level as well as making his presence felt with Ulster A.

Speaking on his latest acquisition, Head Coach Steve Boden said. “I’m really pleased to be welcoming Mark to Doncaster, we feel he is the right fit for our environment, he’s competitive and tough but also has a very high skill set to match and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in a Knights shirt.”

The vision of new boss Steve Boden is not lost on the Northern Irishman who hopes to make an impression in South Yorkshire and be part of a new era that sees the Knights challenging back towards the top. “Bodes vision for the club going forward was a key factor in my decision to sign, he is looking to go with a fresher, younger squad & being a player with maybe a bit more experience than some other lads is a challenge that I’m excited for.

“I want to make an impact as a player, I like to create space for others & once we eventually get going I hope I can do this & lead a strong defensive line.

“From what Bodeshas told me we’re going to be a young squad with lots of new faces, we’re going to be ambitious and hope to turn heads & challenge the so called bigger teams.”

The Knights have been a familiar foe for Mark in his three seasons in the Championship and he admits that he’s always been impressed by the set up and fan base at Castle Park & is very excited to be a part of it. ‘The facilities in Doncaster are second to none at this level & playing on a pitch that plays as well as Castle Park all year round is something that I’m looking forward.”

“As a visiting player the Donny fans have always been great & over the years playing with Jersey I’ve found them very welcoming & willing to give their time to have a conversation after the game.

“I’d like to thank Steve & the board for all their hard work over the last couple of months to get this over the line in these uncertain times. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Castle Park when we are able to get back to it. COYK”

Mark’s signing takes the number of Knights contracted for 2020/21 to fourteen.

With more announcements coming soon be sure to keep checking drfc.co.uk & the Knights social media.

Remember you can donate for a host of rewards, including your 2020/21 Season Ticket on our Crowdfunder page today!

2020/2021 current squad. 

ANDREW FOSTER [CONTRACT 2ND YEAR], KYLE EVANS [CONTRACT 2ND YEAR], MATT SMITH [CONTRACT 2ND YEAR], REISS CULLEN [CONTRACT 2ND YEAR], SAM OLVER [CONTRACT 2ND YEAR]

CHARLIE FOLEY [RETAINED 1 YEAR], HOWARD PACKMAN [RETAINED 1 YEAR], WILL HOLLING [RETAINED 1 YEAR], MATT CHALLINOR [RETAINED 1 YEAR], SAM POCKLINGTON [RETAINED 1 YEAR], ROBIN HISLOP [RETAINED 2 YEARS], BEN HUNTER [RETAINED 1 YEAR].

JAMES KANE [NEW SIGNING 1 YEAR]

MARK BEST [NEW SIGNING 1 + 1 YEAR]

Match day Rewind | Knights vs Coventry 2007.

Although June is just around the corner we are continuing our match day rewind series to keep your Saturdays rugby filled.

Today’s encounter comes from back in 2007 against a familiar foe in the form of Coventry Rugby.

It was the very first game of the 2007/08 campaign with Knights ambitions high having finished third in the second tier in the season previous.

A Knights squad littered with Castle Park favourites saw inbound Head Coach Steve Boden at hooker alongside Simon Bunny Bunting and Richard Hill’s best mate Ngalu Tau.

Enjoy!

KNIGHTS | 15 Wes Davies, 14 Paul Bailey, 13 Brad Hunt, 12 Spencer Davey, 11 Justin Bishop, 10 Cerith Rees, 9. Antoine Nicole, 1. Simon Bunting, 2. Steve Boden, 3. Ngalu T’au, 4. Bryn Griffiths, 5. Glen Kenworthy, 6. Ollie Cook, 7. Simon Grainger, 8. Glen Wilson

REPLACEMENTS | 16. Richard List, 17. Ben Phillips, 18. John Rawson, 19. Sean Tomes, 20. Mark Woodrow, 21. David Scully, 22. Scott Gray

COVENTRY | 15. Ben Toft, 14. Kurt Johnson, 13. Ben Russell, 12. Donovan Saunders, 11. Logonaitaga Kirisome, 10 Myles Dorian, 9.  Nathan Jones, 1.  Carl Rimmer, 2.  Chris Whitehead, 3.  Rudolf Brits, 4.  Gregor Gillanders, 5.  Ollie Hodge, 6.  Dan Hodges, 7.  Jamie Miller, 8.  Laurie McGlone

REPLACEMENTS | 16. Stuart Friswell, 17. Rob Dugard, 18. Ian Nimmo, 19. Darren Clayton, 20. Tom Slater, 21.  Ronnie McLean, 22. George Dixon

Referee. Rowan Kitt

Player of the Season & Try of the Season voting open.

Vote now for your Player & Try of the 2019/20 Season. 

In association with Dilly Dilly Gin voting for Player of the Season & Try of the Season is now open.

Pick the Knight that you think outshone the rest in 2019/20 as well as your favourite try from our shortlist below – selected by members of the Knights squad.

To celebrate our partnership with the Laneham based Gin distillers we’re giving away a bottle of both their Dilly Dilly & Lydia Lydia products.

To enter, simply vote in the polls below and like Dilly Dilly Gin on Facebook. Voting closes on June 5th.

VOTE | PLAYER OF THE SEASON

VOTE | TRY OF THE SEASON

Match day rewind | Knights vs Leeds

Knights vs Leeds | March 7th 2009

This week’s match day rewind is Yorkshire derby clash against Leeds Carnegie!

The Headingley based outfit arrived at Castle Park with a 100% record and sat top of the National Division One table seeking an immediate return to the Premiership.

A quick glance at the Knights squad that day sees the twenty-two littered with Castle Park favourites in a season that saw fly half Jamie Lennard finish as the league’s top point scorer.

Site back & enjoy!

Doncaster Knights: 15 Anthony Carter 14 Wes Davies 13 Hudson Tonga’uiha 12 Bevon Armitage 11 Andy Wright 10 Jamie Lennard 9.  Matt D’Arcy 1.  Tom Davies  2. Steve Boden 3. Mike Cusack 4. Dan Smith 5. Glen Kenworthy 6. Josh Afu 7. Simon Grainger 8. Chris Planchant.

Replacements: 16.Toma Toke 17 Richard List 18 Bryn Griffiths 19. Adam Kettle 20 Chris Hallam 21. Alistair Warnock 22. Donovan Van Vuuren

Leeds Carnegie: 15 Leigh Hinton 14 Richard Welding 13 John Hepworth 12 Scott Barrow 11 Lee Blackett 10 Alberto Di Bernardo 9.  Joe Bedford 1. Tom McGee 2.  Rob Rawlinson 3.  Juan Francisco Gomez 4.  Phil Murphy 5. Jon Pendlebury 6. Kearnan Myall 7. Jacob Rowan 8.  Rhys Oakley

Replacements 16 Mike McDonald 17. Viliami Ma’asi 18. Danny Paul 19. Tim Davidson 20. Scott Mathis 21. Henry Paul 22. Jon Goodridge

Ref: Stuart Dickinson (Australia RFU)

 

 

Match day Rewind | Knights vs Notts 2010.

This weekend’s Match Day Rewind comes from 2010 & is a classic Championship grudge match against Nottingham Green & Whites. 

This encounter from October 2010 is not one to be missed!

In the squad that day were current Knights Dougie Flockhart & Stevie McColl with inbound Head Coach Steve Boden starting at hooker.

Former Castle Park favourite Alex Shaw lined up among the Nottingham replacements that day with Rugby Development Manager Glen Kenworthy starting at lock for the Knights.

Enjoy!

Knights XV | 15 Steve McColl, 14 Dougie Flockhart, 13 Chris Briers, 12 Petala Gidlow, 11 Matt Williams, 10 Tristan Roberts, 9 Chris Hallam, 1 Dan Frazier, 2 Steve Boden, 3 Michael Cusack, 4 Glen Kenworthy , 5 Matt Challinor, 6 Andy Boyde, 7 Zack Farivars, 8 Neil Cochrane

Replacements | 16 Stuart Corsair, 17 Tom Doughty, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Dom Parsons, 20 Chris Walker , 21 Peter Jericevich, 22 Ollie Goss

Nottingham XV | 15 Cesar Semper, 14 Andrew Savage, 13 Tim Treather, 12 Jack Cobden, 11 David Jackson,
10 James Aldridge, 9 Finley Farnham, 1 Tom French, 2 Declan Farrell, 3 Nick Adams, 4 Callum Green, 5 Dan Hemingway, 6 Craig Hammond, 7 Tom Ames, 8 Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements |16 Ricky Davies, 17 Ben Buxton, 18 Luke Sherriff, 19 Alex Shaw, 20 David Marshall, 21 Luix Roussarie, 22 Luke Majewski

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Crowdfunder campaign closes in on £35,000 raised

Two weeks ago Doncaster Knights asked Friends of Doncaster Rugby to support us bridge the shortfall created by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Since then we have been completely overwhelmed by the response as almost £35,000 has been raised since launching & for that we say a huge THANK YOU.

Every penny raised will fund essential maintenance and costs to ensure that YOUR Club is in the strongest possible position to operate once it is safe to do so.

For Season Ticket holders you have just 13 days to get hold of 2020/21 Season Tickets for £200.

Castle Park is far more than just the home of Doncaster Knights.

It is a place where friends come together to play, talk, laugh and share a drink. A place where Rugby For All is the motto that underpins our ethos. This has been highlighted by the broad range of donations that have flooded in from people associated with all aspects of the Club.

Below is a thank you video that also highlights some of the ongoing costs that your donations are helping fund, please share the video far and wide because every penny raised truly makes a difference.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/doncaster-knights

Season Tickets

One popular reward of the Crowdfunder so far has been 2020/21 Season Tickets.

Purchasing your season ticket through the Crowdfunder entitles you to all the benefits of purchasing a Season Ticket in the usual fashion.

If you currently hold a 2019/20 De Mulder Lloyd Stand (DMLS) Season Ticket & purchase your 2020/21 Season Ticket through the Crowdfunder page you will automatically retain your seat from last season.

If you currently hold terrace Season Ticket and purchase through the Crowdfunder you can either switch to a DMLS ticket for 2020/21 & we will contact you to confirm your seat or continue to watch from the terrace as usual next season.

Season Tickets will go on sale via the normal channels following the conclusion of the campaign with prices frozen from 2019/20.

If you have any questions about any of the Crowdfunder rewards please email Michael on mcasey@castle-park.co.ukor call on 07814678213.

Around the Ground | Lee Blagden.

Though the doors are closed the grass still grows & preparing Castle Park for the return of rugby continues.

Operating with a reduced team, Head Groundsman Lee Blagden is overseeing the renovation of all playing surfaces at Castle Park whilst observing government guidelines on social distancing.

Lee admits that operating under the restrictions has been unusual and has made what is already a very busy time of year for the grounds team more challenging.

Despite this, he is pleased with the work done so far and optimistic for the remainder of the renovations. “Lockdown has certainly been challenging, we have had to organise and implement a plan to fully renovate five pitches in a timeframe of just three weeks.

“We are operating with reduced staff as half of the team are currently furloughed, this means that myself and Assistant Groundsman Tom Lindley are having to really prioritise projects whilst being very careful to stay safe & follow the Covid-19 restrictions.

“The stadium gates are locked as we work and have been for a nearly two months now which also feels very strange as it would usually have been the hectic end of season run in.”

The latest government briefing gave some hope that professional sport could resume post June 1st however the 2019/20 Championship season has already been cancelled.

Though there is no guarantee that the season will start as usual in September, Lee and Tom are working hard to make sure Castle Park is ready to go when it is safe to do so. “Obviously none of us know when we will be able to host rugby games again but we are planning the renovations to be completed as if it were any other year.

“Pitch One will be ready for the end of August and playable should we have pre-season fixtures then and the outer pitches will be ready for the start of September.

“We are very lucky to have Pitch Four, the SIS 3G Artificial Pitch, which is used by the first team and other playing sections during pre-season meaning we can rest the grass pitches so they are stronger and more hard wearing throughout the season.”

With a lot of the heavy machinery tasks now complete Lee says the next few weeks will be a case of operation hydration as well as ensuring the Stadium’s aesthetic does not suffer too drastically while the doors are closed. “The outer pitches were top-dressed, seeded, dragmatted, fertilised and verti-drained last Monday and work is still being completed on Pitch One.

“It’s now a case of getting as much water down on the outer pitches as possible before the first cut which we would hope to do eighteen days post renovation.

“On top of this are all the maintenance jobs around Castle Park, the grass and plants are not effected by the virus and everything keeps growing so we’re both very busy.”

Remember whilst the business is closed you can help the Club by donating or forward purchasing rewards on our Crowdfunder page for more info.

Griff – Doncaster Free Press reflection.

Today would have been the final day of the 2020/21 rugby season with the Knights welcoming Hartpury to Castle Park.

As well as being the final day of the campaign it was also going to be Clive Griffiths last match as Director of Rugby after a total of nine years in charge.

Clive spoke to Paul Goodwin at the Doncaster Free Press to discuss some of the memories from his time in charge, that interview is available below.

 

Match day rewind | Doncaster Knights vs Bristol.

On what would be the final day of the season we bring you a match day rewind from 2010 as the Knights take on Bristol at the Memorial Stadium.

We have enjoyed some fantastic tussles with the West County outfit over the season, most memorably in the Championship Play-Offs in 2016.

This week we’ve chosen to remember an encounter from early in the 2010/11 season to enjoy ‘live’ instead of what would have been Hartpury at home in the Championship.

There were plenty of notably names in both match day twenty-twos with Saracens & Lions star Mako Vunipola wearing the #1 jersey for Briz.

Enjoy the full game uninterrupted below!

Knights XV 15 Steve McColl 14 Dougie Flockhart 13 Chris Briers 12 P J Gidlow 11 Matt Williams 10 Tristan Roberts 9 Chris Hallam 1 Dan Frazier 2 Steve Lawrie 3 Mike Cusack 4 Glen Kenworthy 5 James Craig 6 Andy Boyde 7 Neil Cochrane 8 Ed Jackson

Replacements: 16 Stuart Corsair 17 Tom Doughty 18 Lewis Thiede 19 Paul Devlin 20 Ollie Goss 21 Chris Walker 22 Dom Parsons

Bristol XV 15 Jack Tovey 14 Sean Marsden 13 Junior Fatialofa 12 Ed Barnes 11 Dan Norton 10 Nicky Little 9 Richard Bolt 1 Mako Vunipola 2 Ollie Hayes 3 Wayne Thompson 4 Ben Glynn 5 Roy Winters 6 Ian Grieve 7 Jamie Miller 8 Dan Montagu

Replacements: 16 Billy Moss 17 Dave Blaney 18 Darren Barry 19 James Merman 20 Sam Alford 21 Jack Adams 22 Adrian Jarvis

Bomber Hislop named in Dream XV

Bomber Hislop has been named in The Rugby Paper’s Championship Dream XV.

The 28-year-old fought off competition from across the division to be named as the Championship’s top loose head.

Hislop made 17 appearances in Donny blue in 2019/20 & has recently recommitted his future to the Club by signing a new two-year contract extension.

Watch below as the Scotsman discusses his selection as well as lockdown life & introduces us to Woody – his new Miniature Dachshund puppy.

Match day rewind report | Knights progress to Trophy Round five.

Knights 37-13 Richmond.

The Knights progressed to Round five of the EDF Trophy following a comprehensive victory over London Division One leaders Richmond at Castle Park

Lynn Howell’s men started at a fast pace and pinned Richmond inside their own half from the off, forcing them to defend desperately.  With four minutes gone Richmond were penalised in from of their own posts for not rolling away from the ball at a ruck and Cerith Rees kicked a simple penalty.

If the Knights thought it was going to be one way traffic they were to be disappointed as Richmond challenged the home side, particularly at scrum time, and they brought the score level after eight minutes their full back Matt Hart slotted a penalty from 30 metres out after the Knights were caught offside at a ruck. Hart doubled the Londoners tally six minutes later with another successful penalty edge the visitors into the lead.

The Knights rallied and made inroads with their driving line out, from a solid platform the ball was moved to the left and a driving maul allowed Luke to go over for a try which the players had to point out to a bemused and out of position referee.

Rees’s conversion put the Knights back in front but Richmond were not to be put off.

Strong running moved the Londoners inside the Knights 22m, where centre Tom Gregory cut through a gap between Rees and Spencer Davey to link up with Hart who scored under the sticks to give himself a simple conversion and his side a 13 points to 10 lead.

For the last 15 minutes of the half Richmond defended stoutly against a series of Doncaster attacks, the highlight of which was a scything break Donovan Van Vuuren which fizzled out when the support could not get to him.

The Knights came out for the second period in a higher gear and really imposed themselves in the opening ten minutes after the resumption. Another superb but eventually unproductive break by Van Vuuren was the best of the early opportunities but on 53 minutes the Knights showed Richmond the respect they deserved by a taking a penalty opportunity which Rees goaled to make the scores level.

Shortly after the Knights took the lead after they won a Richmond line out on the visitors 22m. Quick ball spun to the left gave Davey the space to make a break, almost to the line, before passing inside to fellow centre Young for his first try for the Knights which Rees converted. 

By now Richmond were tiring but despite this resilient defence thwarted several would be scoring opportunities

On 65 minutes the Knights extended their lead when Richmond failed to control the ball as it shot out of the back of a scrum close to their line and an alert Dan Storey picked to ball up and quickly linked with Rees whose pass gave winger Paul Bailey the opportunity to show his speed and strength to score wide out. 

Shortly afterwards Richmond lost their fiery Samoan replacement prop James Johnstone to the sin bin for his second warning in as many minutes and the visitors were really up against it. 

From the next lineout the Knights drove Richmond back 20 metres before releasing the ball to the left where Bailey was lurking and he cut back inside and beat six defenders to score near the posts giving Rees an easy conversion. 

From the kick off Doncaster attacked and, with their two Tongan internationals Lisiate Fa’aoso and Toma Toke now on as replacements for Tom Luke and Jon Rawson respectively, they were rampant. 

A bullocking 15 metre run down the left touchline by Toke split the Richmond defence and his offload to the supporting Davey allowed the centre to dive over in the corner for a try which Rees converted with a superb kick for the final score of the game.

After the match Lynn Howells gave credit to the gutsy Richmond side who held their own for the first 50 minutes of the game before the Knights fitness told.  Howell’s admitted that parts of his team’s performance had been scrappy but that he was more than pleased that a number of players made been given match opportunities and to put their case forward for future selection.

This had been the bigger picture that he had been aiming for and he said he was particularly pleased that the likes of Luke Gross and Ben Phillips had been able to come through unscathed and that he had been able to give the likes of List, Storey, Young and Rees a full game.

Doncaster Knights: W Davies; P Bailey; S Young; S Davey; D Van Vuuren; C. Rees; D Storey; R List; B Phillips (S Plevey 65); J Rawson (T Toke 55); B Griffiths; L Gross (G Kenworthy 47); O Cook; C Planchant; T Luke (L Fa’aoso 68)  Subs not used A Carter; B Hunt and B Jones.

Richmond:  M Hart; K Bingham; T Gregory (M Brown 65); A MacLennan; N Piggot (J Awuja 40); L Cousins; T Drewe; R Allmusen (T Nuttall 63); E Rosa (M Bolton 63); O Gregory (J Johnstone 50); T Wesley (P Wilson 50); H Head; J Bucknall; J Hartman (S Barlow 55); T George