Doncaster Knights focused on Cornish Pirates and not promotion appeal to RFU

Decisions taken above their pay grade may have taken a little sting out of today’s renewal of this grand old Championship rivalry, but Doncaster Knights head coach Steve Boden is urging his players to seize the moment and win the RFU Championship.

By Nick Westby
Saturday, 12th March 2022, 10:39 am
Steve Boden
Steve Boden

Doncaster welcome their long-time second-tier rivals Cornish Pirates to Castle Park knowing a victory over the second-placed team will leave them with one hand on the Championship trophy.

In most other leagues and sports, that would mean promotion to the top flight, something Doncaster took a huge step towards two weeks ago when they went down to the then-second-placed team, and highly resourced, Ealing Trailfinders and won.

For a few days Doncaster were dreaming of the Premiership until the Rugby Football Union announced that neither they, nor Ealing, had a stadium big enough to satisfy their minimum standards criteria for playing in the Premiership.

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Incensed, insulted, Doncaster vowed to lodge an appeal to the RFU, something they are in the process of putting together. It means today’s game, at present, only has title implications rather than promotion ramifications, but Boden is nonetheless determined that his players remain focused on what would be a big slice of club history.

“I don’t know what the outcome (of the appeal) is going to be, you only have to look at our facilities to know we have good grounds to appeal,” he said.

“What will come of that, will come of that.

“We didn’t expect to be here, we are here, so I think whilst we are here you can forget about the rest and the enjoy the moment.

“The club has not been in this position for a while so let’s not get caught up in too many things, let’s enjoy the process of being here.”

The players were off when news broke that the RFU would not grant them promotion, but any fears the issue would be hanging over the squad as they began preparing for Pirates this week were quickly allayed.

“The playing staff and club have responded as we always do, things that are out of our control we’ll let go,” added Boden.

“Yes we talked about it, but in all honesty I think it was a two-minute meeting.

“Since I took over at the club we never talk about winning, we don’t talk about league position, we don’t talk about these types of things. The goal for us is we go out and we show we care every week, that’s something that we can achieve, and we’re concentrating on that.

“Credit to the players, we’ve not even had to talk about it or think about it. The energy in the camp has been good, the mood has been extremely good.”

On the game itself, he said: “We’ve got a bigger challenge than we had against Ealing. The league table doesn’t lie; at the moment they’re a better side than Ealing.

“It’s a massive challenge. They’ve got a huge forward pack, a relentless kicking game and they’re going to put us under a tremendous amount of pressure. The physicality of the game is going to be sky high.”