Doncaster Knights gearing up for mid-January start to Championship

Doncaster Knights could begin the new Championship season on January 16, according to reports.

By Paul Goodwin
Friday, 18th December 2020, 12:14 pm
Doncaster Knights could be back in action in January. Photo: Blueline Photography
Doncaster Knights could be back in action in January. Photo: Blueline Photography

The structure of the 2020/21 campaign has still not been confirmed but second tier clubs are currently gearing up for a mid-January start.

Ideally clubs would like to squeeze in a full 22-game season but concerns have been raised about such a crammed schedule in the current Covid-19 climate.

That could result in the division being split into two pools of six teams.

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Reports suggest that the pools would be based on last season’s finishing positions, meaning Knights would be grouped with Saracens, Cornish Pirates, Ampthill, Jersey and Hartpury.

Clubs in each pool would face each other home and away and also play clubs in the other pool once to make up a 16-game season.

The return of a play-offs system would then determine which club would be promoted to the Premiership.

There has also been speculation that the league could run with just eight teams but all 12 Championship clubs intend to play after returning to stage one of elite training.

However, this week’s review of the tier system and the ongoing propsect of playing matches behind closed doors might persuade some clubs to mothball until the 2021/22 season.

Knights returned to training last month and are now hoping to build more contact work into their schedules.

They are yet to announce any pre-season friendlies but took part in a training day at Newcastle Falcons this week and the Premiership new boys will visit in Castle Park in January.

Head coach Steve Boden told Knights’ official website: “We had a really decent day with Newcastle, we get on well with their coaching team and appreciate the opportunity for a hit out.

"Overall I am happy with what I saw.

"The main purpose was to play under pressure against an opposition that don’t know what you’re doing and I think we both got plenty from the day.”

Championship clubs were recently allocated £9million of government funding but it is still unclear how those funds will be distributed.

It has been suggested that 75% of that figure would be in loans rather than grants.