Ford and McGeechan to meet following Doncaster Knights' defeat to Coventry

The new coaching set-up at Castle Park, Sir Ian McGeechan as Consultant Director of Rugby and Head Coach Joe Ford, today begin detailed discussions on how their partnership is going to operate in practice.
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Their working relationship is clearly a priority from now until the end of the Championship campaign which has seven league games remaining and, indeed, going forward into next season.

The Knights are starting to recruit for the 2024-25 season, and negotiating with agents acting for players who are arriving, staying or leaving is taking up plenty of time currently.

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Sadly, from the Knights’ point of view, any optimism that McGeechan’s appointment or presence would somehow have a magical and immediate impact quickly disappeared as Doncaster were beaten convincingly by Coventry, 12-27.

Joe FordJoe Ford
Joe Ford

However, this Saturday, they have the opportunity to recover from this unexpected defeat in the next fixture at London Scottish, bottom of the league with only one win in 11 games.

McGeechan, Ford, forwards coach Glen Kenworthy and Tyson Lewis, in charge of defence, will be urging a transformation in the performance of the Doncaster pack, especially the front row, which was ruined by Coventry who were awarded six scrum penalties.

Without the ball and territory, for almost the entire first half, the Knights’ defence was under constant pressure. The players responded effectively and, frankly, did well to survive in the contest and restrict Coventry’s dominance to only 10-0 at the interval.

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Some improvement appeared later with two tries on 66 and 78 minutes by fly half Billy McBryde and replacement winger Nat Greenwood, on loan from Newcastle Falcons, but the award earlier of a penalty try against Doncaster and then in the 80th when they conceded a third try resulted in their sixth league defeat, dropping the Knights to fourth place in the Championship on 39 points.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome but proud of the fight we put up,” explained Ford.

“We never gave in and I thought our defence was awesome. We struggled at the scrum, so we’ve got to work out how we can get that firing again.

“It’s brilliant and invaluable having Sir Ian here. I’m sure we’ll be having lots of phone calls.”

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Now 77, the former distinguished British and Irish Lions coach looked delighted to be returning again to serious rugby.

“The attitude of the players was superb and we didn’t give Coventry any easy chances. Joe and I have still to work out how we are going to manage our relationship, but it’s amazing to be in a track suit again, and I’m looking forward to it,” McGeechan said.

Doncaster Knights: Holden, Simpson, Bedlow, Bennett, Metcalf (Greenwood 52), McBryde, Dolly (Fox 63), Davidson (McArthur 75), Doughty (Roberts 45), Barrett (Thiede 40), Murphy, Wilson (Smeaton 69), Brown, Tait (Mintern 65), Digby (Beckett 45).

Coventry: Wilson, Hutler, Wand, Hitchcock, Martin, Pellegrini, Chudley (Venner 64), Trinder (Chilvers 53), Poole (Biggs 64), Nicol (Nairau 60), Tyas, Nkwocha, Ball (Ryan 60), Kvesic,Nayalo (Bartlett 64).

Referee: Luke Pearce