Post by Jamie Crawford on Sept 16, 2019 10:04:09 GMT
Hartpury College in Championship Cup preview
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Castle Park 2.30pm
The RFU Championship Cup, taking place for the second time, will open this 2019/20 season’s fixtures.
As per its inaugural season teams are split into three pools, playing across six rounds (H & A) with the pool stage fixtures all completed before Christmas. The top two teams from each pool together with the two best runners up across the three pools will all proceed to the quarter-finals which will be followed by the semi-finals and a final which will take place in May next year."
In Pool 2 Doncaster Knights will play Hartpury (H), Newcastle Falcons (A) and Jersey Reds (H). Our first three fixtures are Cup games, the reverse fixtures are played 30th Nov, 7th Dec, 14th Dec in the reverse order with the Reds first.
We kick off with this home RFU Championship Cup game against Hartpury. Every one of the Coaching staff and players that were interviewed on our website were extremely positive about the pre-season training. Dougie has had the team training hard on their fitness.
Championship teams have had nearly 15 weeks pre-season fitness and skills training compared to the normal 11, so the Knights had a week off after five and a half weeks. The squad have benefited from a sprint coach coming to Castle Park. Testing of body weight, body fat content and speed in addition to anaerobic and aerobic fitness have been to Premiership standards. The aim being to build up fitness levels to peak at the end ready to play Hartpury at the start of the season.
The pre-season results indicate the effectiveness. Three convincing wins from three games with the last team (Rams) being prevented from scoring a point is a positive but the proof of the pudding (or training) will be seen over the next few weeks and beyond. A team can only get a pointer at how effective they are in pre-season games.
Every player relished the prospect of starting the season with a home game with the intention of starting the process of making Castle Park a fortress that other sides will dread travelling to (but their supporters are most welcome and will hopefully enjoy despite losing!)
Dougie reflected on pre-season in Doncaster Free Press, “…Flockhart said: “We’ve had a good mixture of weather during the three pre-season games. “It was wet in Bridgend, roasting when we played Sale and blustery against Rams in our final game and I was happy with the fitness levels in all three games. We’ve also put more emphasis on defence - not that we haven’t worked hard on defence in the past - so to keep a clean sheet against Rams and concede just three in the three games is pleasing.” (Doncaster Free Press)
A warm welcome to the new Knights; 2nd Row Reuben Birch (DR with Sale),
Utility Back Will Burden, Scrum Half Reiss Cullen, Hooker George Edgson, Wing Kyle Evans, Prop Andrew Foster. Hooker Will Holling, Centre Pete Lucock, Scrum Half Sam Pocklington, 2nd Row Matt Smith, Prop Marc Thomas and Full Back Cameron Cowell (signed.) Cameron is last but by no means least (the others are listed alphabetically) because he is not a new player but he is a new signing however. (Apologies if I’ve missed anyone not announced yet such as Seth Adams.)
Of course welcome ex-Knight Centurion Steve Boden (Bodes) as Assistant Coach plus welcome back Francis Cummins (Franny) who has re-joined the Knights as the new Basks and skills coach. (edited - removed & added)
I wasn’t certain how many of them or who would be included in the pre-season games, so I’ve left the welcome until the start of the season. Plus there might have been more.
Hartpury have signed five from BUCS Super Rugby squad to their professional team and other new players include former England Sevens player, No. 8 Seb Nagle-Taylor from Rotherham Titans where he was Captain and Nagle-Taylor was the joint-second highest try-scorer in National One with 21 tries (named Titan’s player of the season). Ex-Bath A-Team and ex-London Irish Academy player Scrum Half Luke Carter has signed from Ealing Trailfinfinders. Ex-Saracens Academy Second Row Tom Jubb has signed from Coventry. That said I don’t know what players will be on show in this Cup game. I would imagine that teams will use these initial Cup games as extensions of pre-season training to improve before league action commences on 12th October. As such teams may favour playing their best players rather than resting them.
On August 30 the Red & Blacks travelled to Neath to play a pre-season game against the Ospreys. The regional side that was formed in 2003 when Swansea and Neath merged. The Ospreys were without their International players Adam Beard, Aled Davies, Bradley Davies, George North, Nicky Smith, Justin Tipuric, Owen Watkin and Alun Wyn Jones. These players were spending the summer deep in preparation for this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan but they have a huge squad of very experienced players (44 according to their squad photos.) However they have 81 players according to the Ultimate rugby website. (ultimaterugby.com/ospreys/squa [HASH] (84 including 3 coaches).
“Ospreys 36 – Hartpury University RFC 5 Hartpury will reflect on a game that threw up a handful of pre-season positives against a lively, disciplined and well-drilled Ospreys at The Gnoll, Neath, on Friday night.
Ultimately, the Welsh franchise ran away with things in the second half as both squads introduced large numbers of replacements, but there was enough, in the first half in particular, to suggest that Hartpury can look to the season ahead with some optimism. …” (Hartpury’s website)
Please remember that the full Ospreys first team play in he Pro14 and the European Rugby Champions Cup and so are a different class to our last pre-season opposition the Rams.
Hopefully Hartpury won’t be expecting a major challenge against us because their website said, “…Hartpury start with a trip to Doncaster Knights, who finished one place above them in 10th last season,...”
Hartpury’s Head Coach Mark Cornwell said on their website, “…“We feel that we’ve got a lot more quality in the squad this year and that extra time that we’ve had with them should really pay dividends.
As you can imagine, the players are chomping at the bit to get involved in some action.”
Hartpury had a late influx of dual-registered Gloucester players. Gloucester Rugby’s training ground is next to Hartpury’s 1st team pitch. The question is will any or how many Gloucester players will play against the Knights?
Doncaster Knights’ Kurt Morath will play for Tonga against England on Sunday. Good luck to Kurt but not to Tonga!
DONNY, DONNY, DONNY…