For the self-acclaimed ‘most promoted team in English rugby union history’, taking one step back to go forward was not part of the plan.
Last season’s relegation from the RFU Championship dented Doncaster’s pride. It hurt. And it left a dark cloud hanging over a club unaccustomed to failure.
But it may yet prove to be the making of the Knights.
As Clive Griffiths’ men thrust a lance into Esher’s promotion hopes on Saturday, the wounds of relegation appear to be well on the way to healing.
The long faces at Castle Park have been replaced by smiling ones. There’s a new sense of hope and optimism. Confidence has returned. Griffiths is making his mark.
According to chief executive David Ryall, relegation has brought the club closer together. The Knights have been galvanised by the drop, he says. Lessons have been learned.
Now the only way is up. Again.
“There was a collective disappointment at relegation last year,” said Ryall on the Knights’ first ever demotion in their history.
“But to some degree it’s given grit and resolve to operate as one club with a common aim of seeking promotion back to the Championship.”
To read more see this week’s Free Press - or watch David’s interview with Paul Goodwin in full by clicking on the video above.