Doncaster Knights’ Championship schedule is revealed

Jamie Lennard (centre) is expected to be a key figure this season after returning to Knights for a second spell at the club.
Jamie Lennard (centre) is expected to be a key figure this season after returning to Knights for a second spell at the club.

FRIDAY night fever will be in full swing at Doncaster Knights next season.

Nine out of the Knights’ 11 Championship home games will be played under the Castle Park floodlights on a Friday evening, the club has confirmed.

Two exceptions include London Welsh’s scheduled visit on New Year’s Day, which will kick off at 2.30pm on Tuesday, January 1.

Doncaster’s home derby with Rotherham Titans on March 9 next year will also remain on a Saturday afternoon.

Next season’s revamped Championship fixtures were released by the RFU last week and saw Brett Davey’s side handed the long trip to Plymouth Albion on the opening day of the season on Sepember 1.

Bristol Rugby will be the first visitors to Castle Park on September 7.

Doncaster’s Friday night games will kick off at 7.45pm.

Owner Tony De Mulder recently urged Knights supporters to back the switch to Friday night rugby.

He also warned that if attendances do not improve the club may struggle to preserve their Championship status.

Castle Park officials are hoping their ‘Friday Knights’ initiative will attract a new breed of young supporters.

But the radical scheme - which means that Knights will avoid fixture clashes with Doncaster Rovers and popular race meetings at Doncaster Racecourse - has come in for criticism from some sections of the club’s supporters.

Next season’s revamped Championship will see the number of teams involved in the promotion play-offs reduced from eight to four.

The relegation play-offs, which saw the bottom four teams battle it out to avoid the drop, have been scrapped.

Instead the side finishing bottom of the division will be automatically relegated to SSE National League One.

Each club will also play six games in the revised British & Irish Cup.

The expanded cross border competition will now include financial rewards for the clubs that reach the knock-out stages.

Doncaster boss Davey has told the Free Press that he thinks the changes to the league format will make the division even more competitive.

Knights finished eighth in last season’s Championship but then went on to lose six out of six in the promotion play-offs.

The arrival of 18 new players at Castle Park has seen a wave of optimism replace the disappointment of last term - with several new signings tipping Doncaster to challenge for a top four finish.

Knights will travel to Premiership side Gloucester for a pre-season friendly on Saturday, August 25.