HEAD coach James Ford regularly states continual improvement and development is a key element of the culture in York City Knights' playing ranks - and he's hopeful there is a similar ethos among match officials.

Ford's first reaction after last Friday's Challenge Cup defeat at Dewsbury was one of frustration - not at his team but at the refereeing.

The were no major decisions by Castleford whistler Andy Sweet which led directly to points being scored at one end or wiped off at the other, but Ford bemoaned a number of ultimately telling calls which affected the momentum of the match and swung it the Championship side's way.

And, having watched the match video several times since, those feelings have only been reinforced - and he has called on the Rugby Football League to make sure officials, like players, learn from experience and learn from mistakes.

“My first feelings were of pride. I was really pleased with the commitment the players played with," he said when asked of his opinion of the video evidence.

“I thought we matched a good Championship team in a lot of areas for long periods of time.

“My feelings (about the officiating) have been reinforced.

“We were on the end of a number of pretty harsh decisions, for instance the stuff in and around the play-the-balls.

“We were getting penalised for Dewsbury players not allowing us to separate. We are trying to release and move and on a number of occasions they have fallen into us or continued to wrestle and hold on and have milked a penalty.

“We’re learning – and I hope the officials are too.

“I want it to be the two teams that decide games. If we lose I’d prefer to get beaten by a better team on the day. In my opinion there were three or four really harsh calls against us.

“There were two equal teams. Dewsbury were good value for the win – fair play to them. Like I said after the game, to score 30 points past us takes some doing.

“However momentum did get changed by these decisions and sometimes by the decisions that weren’t given when it would have influenced momentum in our favour.

“Players have good days and bad days, I do too as a coach. There is human error and people make mistakes, I get that.

“I just hope the referees are willing to learn from it.”

THE York City Knights Foundation are being backed by supermarket chain Morrisons to deliver inclusive rugby league sessions across York and the surrounding area as part of an "All Knights" project.

The word "inclusive" is management speak for getting people from all walks of life, all ages and all abilities involved.

In this instance, funding from Morrisons will help the Foundation to give young people with disabilities the chance to try rugby league and play on a regular basis.

And that can only be a good thing.

A Foundation statement said: "This project aims to make the game of rugby league more inclusive and accessible by giving more people the opportunity to play, watch and be involved.

"The support from Morrisons will enable the Foundation to work in schools and in the community to give young people with disabilities the opportunity to try rugby league and play on a regular basis."

Foundation manager Neil Gulliver said: "We are incredibly grateful to Morrisons for the support they are giving us to deliver this project. It will be invaluable in enabling more young people to lead more active, healthy lives and to become part of the York City Knights family."

Anyone wanting more information on the project or to find out how their school can get involved can phone Gulliver on 01904 767404 or email neil@ycknights.co.uk.

THE Knights Foundation, meanwhile, have become an Embed the Pathway England Rugby League Player Development partner.

Embed the Pathway is the Rugby Football League programme of player and coach development, which aims to provide an environment which allows players to progress and creates a bigger player pool for the game.

As an accredited partner, the Knights will run school festivals, teacher and coach development workshops and "open access development" days for youngsters from clubs and schools.

These days are open to anyone aged from under-12s to U16s and focus on improving the players' technical, mental and movement skills as well as their "coachability".

The first sessions have already been held at the Knights' York St John University training base in Haxby Road site.

Further sessions will be held next month, in the summer and in the October school holidays, with players being able to attend each session free of charge.

Neil Gulliver said: "The Knights have a culture of developing players from the community game through player development programmes and, despite us not having anything in place for the last few years, we are pleased to be able to be part of the Embed the Pathway programme.

"We really see the value in developing coaches, teachers and young players in our game to be the best they can be and if we can help them achieve this then we want to be involved."

For further information, phone Neil on 01904 767404 or email neil@ycknights.co.uk.

TALKING of helping young players to improve, the Knights' first-teamers held one of their training sessions with a local junior team this week - this time New Earswick All Blacks Under-15s.

The lads are pictured with the Knights aces.