Special report: Doncaster Phoenix on the rise

Doncaster Phoenix director of rugby Drew Noble
Doncaster Phoenix director of rugby Drew Noble

Barring a dramatic slump in fortunes, Doncaster Phoenix will be plying their trade in the North One East League next season for the first time in their history.

The Castle Park-based club started 2015 boasting a 100 per cent record and an eight-point lead at the top of Yorkshire One.

They continued their sensational form at the weekend with a 43-10 win at home to Old Brodleians, to make it 16 wins out of 16 and retain that eight-point cushion over Malton and Norton.

However, director of rugby Drew Noble is taking nothing for granted in the race for promotion.

“We are in a good position and it’s certainly ours to lose but we are not taking anything for granted,” said Noble.

Noble’s views carry extra weight after he helped what is now Doncaster Knights on their climb from the Yorkshire League to the Championship.

A product of Wheatley Hills’ junior set-up, which also produced the likes of Andy Clark, Dave Scully and Neil Turner around the same time, the strong-running No 8 twice led Doncaster to promotion while serving as club captain.

Noble originally joined Phoenix as player coach, playing alongside former Doncaster team-mates Billy Farley and winger Chris Conway – a man he says was good enough to have played in the top flight at the peak of his career.

All three are still remembered fondly by the Castle Park faithful.

Like everyone connected with Phoenix, where the likes of player coach Ryan Peacey and coach Anthony Posa have done a great job, Noble is delighted with the club’s progress over the last couple of seasons.

And he feels that there is more to come, not least due to the fact that former Knights stars, such as Chris Planchant and Adam Kettle, are now looking to continue their careers at the club.

He is also encouraged by the wealth of junior talent at Castle Park.

“A lot of the Doncaster side who achieved so many promotions were products of the club’s Colts team of the mid-80s and that played a big part in our success,” he said.

“We were mates on and off the pitch.

“Doncaster has still got one of the biggest junior sections in the north and produce a lot of good young players.

“Unlike when I was playing, it is often too big a jump from junior rugby to first team rugby and that is where we come in.

“We are like a stepping stone for any player with ambitions to play at a higher level.

“We are giving them that chance and the higher we climb the better standard of rugby we’ll be able to offer them.

“The ideal scenario is for the best of the home grown talent to go on and play for the Knights.

“We are hoping that those not quite good enough to play at Championship level will stay with us.”