Players depart as Knights' reserves team disbands

York Press: Luke Hardcastle, who has been released by the Knights Luke Hardcastle, who has been released by the Knights

YORK City Knights will no longer run a reserves team this year - paying the price of not entering the Under-20s Championship competition.

Mick Ramsden's outfit, who won six of their eight friendlies, including a notable victory over Championship big-guns Leigh, have been disbanded for 2014 after it became increasingly difficult to organise fixtures against teams already involved in the U20s league programme.

It is hoped the reserves will start again for 2015 but it will depend on funding which in turn could depend on whether the Knights gain promotion to the Championship.

Head coach Gary Thornton said: "Mick found it difficult to arrange matches as the other teams didn't have free weeks that were suitable.

"It's not a decision the club took lightly but it's about funding and getting game-time."

Club stalwart Ramsden stays with the Knights as an assistant with the first team while continuing training sessions for the development squad of local amateur starlets.

As for the affected players, injuries currently in the first team mean several are in the reckoning for call-ups. Otherwise the 'memorandum of understanding' agreed with neighbouring amateur clubs Acorn, Heworth and New Earswick means they could register there while still training at Huntington Stadium, although the U20s who travelled over from outside York, like Hull or Wakefield, are free to join their own junior clubs.

As reported by The Press, young prop Tim Stubbs has already returned to his amateur club, Acorn.

Luke Hardcastle, who has played twice for the first team after joining York with big brother Benn from Gateshead, has also been released due to falling down the first-team pecking order, following Ben Crane out of the exit door.

Said Thornton: "We've released players like Tim so they can play amateur rugby, with a gentlemen's agreement that he won't play for another (pro) club ahead of us and that if we needed him back he would be free to return.

"We just want to be fair to the lads like Tim and make sure they get game-time. It's the same for some of the other youngsters, like Steve Batty, Luke Tomlinson, Lennox Green and Adam Swift. If they come from Hull or Wakefield, though, it'd be unfair to expect them to play for Acorn rather than their junior club.

"The danger is they get picked up by other (pro) clubs.

"If we restarted the reserves next year we would invite them across and the majority have said they'd like to come back."

The club, one of only eight Championships club to continue an U20s-reserves side, withdrew from the U20s Championship this year due to the financial and practical costs of playing games away to Gloucestershire All Golds and the academy teams in Cumbria, the Midlands and the North East.

They arranged regular reserves fixtures in March, April and May but the latest, against Featherstone, was cancelled by Rovers and the only other game they had lined up was against the RAF in July.

As regards re-establishing the side next year, community chief Jack Stearman said: "I'm dead keen on development so the more we can do the better."

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