YORK Knights have announced that Andrew Henderson has moved positions within the club to Head of Rugby Operations & Development, with Mark Applegarth being instated as the new Head Coach. 

In a huge change for York, chairman Clint Goodchild has confirmed a restructuring off of the pitch that will see Henderson leave his position as Head Coach, transitioning into a new role that will allow him to oversee the day-to-day operations around the club. 

Goodchild acknowledged that it has not been an ideal Betfred Championship campaign so far, but hopes to turn the tide with the change of management. 

After an internal meeting between Goodchild, Henderson and General Manager Neil Gulliver, the Knights came to an agreement for Henderson to make the switch to the new Head of Rugby Operations & Development role.

Replacing Henderson will be former Wakefield Trinity Head Coach Applegarth, who suffered relegation with the Trin from the Betfred Super League last season. 

Applegarth is no stranger to the Knights, having made over 100 appearances across two spells with the club, whilst also representing Batley Bulldogs, Central Queensland Comets and Wakefield.

The Knights have also announced plans to launch the York RLFC academy in 2026. 

The academy will aid York in gaining valuable IMG points, as well as provide valuable support for the Knights and York Valkyrie's first-teams.

In a major announcement, Goodchild stated: "The 2024 Championship season has brought with it a rollercoaster of emotions and outcomes.

"There is no doubt that at the midway point in the season the Knights are not where we aimed to be on the ladder.

"The challenges presented due to injuries and suspensions at the start of the season have driven many of the inconsistent performances.

"I feel we are yet to see our best team on the field. Through no fault of any player or staff member, this run of misfortunes has taken its toll on the playing group and coaching staff. 

 "While there is a serious element of “bad luck” to the current table standing, it would be poor form not to look at all the potential areas we need to improve to gain consistency on and off the field.

"The players, the coaches, the staff and the fans have all stood up to be counted on during this rough run of results.

"I believe we have an exceptional group of players here at the Club and we will continue to add additional pieces as we charge forward in the second half of the season. 

  "Following a review of the performance departments and talent development across the club, I have decided to bring forward plans to restructure performance and invest in stronger player development pathways.

"We are refocusing on a long-term plan that includes the intention to launch a licensed York RLFC Academy in 2026 while bringing additional support to the Knights squad in the immediate future.  

  "I believe this is the time to implement the new full-time position of Head of Rugby Operations & Development.

"This position will be responsible for improving day to day rugby operations to drive higher standards and provide support for the Knights and Valkyrie as the increased demands of the Super League, RFL & IMG continue to consume more time and resources of performance, medical and back-office staff.  

  "While we feel a Head of Rugby Operations role is necessary, we are also committed to launching an RFL licensed Academy in 2026.

"To achieve this, we will need to start taking immediate action to build proven pathway systems and strengthen community relationships to attract the best of York’s future homegrown stars.

"While we have consciously looked to recruit and develop players from York through the Excel programme, Foundation community action sessions and recruiting “York Kids” from other Clubs, it is now time to take serious steps to build the bridge to ensure the home-grown talent comes into the York RLFC Academy.  

  "Having identified the need for a Head of Rugby Operations & Development these past few months the challenge then became who can fill such an important role.

"It was a short list that led me to internal discussions with Knights Head Coach Andrew Henderson & Club General Manager, Neil Gulliver, where the only obvious candidate was Andrew Henderson himself.

"His first-hand experience in developing player pathways at all levels, his knowledge of the challenges that come with coaching in a part-time environment and the experience of being in a successful full-time system are exceptional.

"I have no doubt Andrew is the right man to build a system that will feed talent into the Club via a successful Academy for generations to come.  

  "Now, identifying Andrew as the right person for the role obviously creates an immediate issue of a vacant Knights Head Coaching position in the middle of the Championship season.

"There is no more challenging and scrutinized role than that of a Rugby League Head Coach, so the hire cannot be a reactive one it must be a long-term strategic appointment. 

 "I am excited to announce the appointment of Mark Applegarth as Head Coach of the York Knights.

"With the support and guidance of Andrew, Mark will be taking the reins of the team this week to maximize the available time with staff and players during the “Challenge Cup Break”.

"Mark has shown he can develop young players, can motivate teams, is hungry for success, has shown grit and determination and, importantly, is a former York player with over 100 appearances.  

 "There will be more information and interviews to come in the coming days, but the priority right now is to have a successful transition period for both Andrew & Mark to allow the players and staff to focus on the job at hand - facing the Dewsbury Rams on Sunday, June 16th.

"I am excited to take this step toward securing the Club's long-term success."