After playing a crucial part in Doncaster Knights’ final promotion push last year, prop Richard List admits lifting the British & Irish Cup would cap off a memorable first full season back at the club.
The 33-year-old rejoined the Knights in February 2014 following a five-year absence playing for Narbonne in France and helped his local club return to the Greene King IPA Championship at the first attempt.
While still not guaranteed safety, Clive Griffiths’ squad have largely stayed out of trouble this season, securing an impressive double over rivals Yorkshire Carnegie and a thrilling draw with play-off hopefuls London Scottish.
Yet it is in the British & Irish Cup that Doncaster have enjoyed the greatest success, beating Championship leaders Bristol in the semi-finals to set up a home final against Worcester on Friday.
And while List is among the most experienced members of a largely youthful squad, he insists there is a steely calm around Castle Park as they prepare for one of the biggest games in the club’s history.
“We are definitely excited and really looking forward to it but everyone has been pretty relaxed even though it is the first big final the club has been in,” he said.
“We can definitely take confidence from the semi-final win over Bristol – they can’t field a weak team with the players they’ve got so you can’t take anything away from us
“This is a squad that believes in themselves, even guys that have just come in for the British & Irish Cup have really stepped up and made selection really hard for Clive Griffiths.
“It’s great to have that competitiveness in the team and guys pushing all the time for a starting spot in the league.
“We’ve done really well in the cup despite not it being the same team that’s started every game.
“It would be massive for this club to win a trophy and it would repay our great coaching team and the supporters who come out every week in the grim northern weather.
“I’m sure Worcester will be wanting to put a marker down with some silverware but on our day we can beat anyone.
“It’s nice to see there is a lot of experience around the team in key position and everyone is thriving off the fact that we are in the final.”
Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s final, attentions will soon turn back to their league campaign, with Doncaster hoping to secure enough points in their remaining three games to stay clear of a relegation fight.
And while List insists his side will not lose focus, the prop believes this campaign has taught the club what they need to do to secure long-term survival in a tough league.
“To be part of the squad that went back up was great and after this year we really know what it takes if you want to break into the top four of the Championship.
“We know we’re not going to get there immediately but if we keep pushing and striving on then we will get there.
“We can’t relax in these last three league games thought and rely on Plymouth or Bedford losing elsewhere – we need to go out and get the points to put it in our hands.
“I’ve loved being back up here as I’m a local lad and it’s great for my family. I’m in talks about staying next year and hopefully those talks can be put onto paper.”
Formed in 2009, the Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby union in England. To keep up-to-date with all the latest news follow @ChampRugby on Twitter, or visit www.rfu.com/championship.