Reu-Knighted - Havant Rugby Club family affair as long serving head coach has three sons in his senior squad for upcoming season

Havant Rugby Club have long prided themselves on creating a close-knit, family feel within their senior squads.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 3:58 pm
Oldest brother Joel Knight has been involved in the Havant first team set up for more than a decade. Picture: Keith Woodland

And that will quite literally be the case for long serving head coach Will Knight this season, with three of his sons to be playing under his watch at Hooks Lane.

Father Will and Havant captain son Joel have spent nearly a decade working together within the first team set up at the club.

But now they will be joined by middle brother Jacob and the youngest of the three, Reuben, who have both opted to make the move to where their rugby careers started as Havant prepare for life in the London & South East Premier Division.

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Havant head coach Will Knight, far left, with three sons Reuben, second left, Joel, third left, and Jacob

After former club Sutton & Epsom had been relegated to put them at the same standard as his hometown team after their promotion, Jacob says he had no choice but to make the switch to play under dad Will.

As for youngest brother Reuben, spells with London Irish Academy and at Ealing Trailfinders had taken a toll on him, so he opted for a summer move to Havant as he searches to rediscover his love for the sport.

Head coach and father Will insists he hadn't planned to have his three sons available to him this season - neither had he expected it to happen.

But he cannot wait to be able to see all three on the field together - even if he does find it a little bit 'spooky'.

Havant RFC first team squad brothers Reuben Knight, far left, Joel, centre, and Jacob

The most senior of Havant's four Knight's said: ‘There’s no doubt about it, I’m immensely proud of everything that all of my children have achieved.

‘To have your three sons playing in the same team together, in a team that you’re coaching, it’s a little bit spooky, really.

‘I don’t think I ever expected it to happen, it’s sort of come together this season, it’s wonderful.

‘It’s great because it means you get to spend time with your kids, you get to spend time doing something together that we all our passionate about and we enjoy, but it’s also very much - these are guys who have been through the system as players.

‘Havant has produced them as players, they’ve gone on and learnt from other places and had different opportunities but there’s something about Havant which does drag you back. That’s very evident, not just from my lads, but from other people who are coming back to the club this season - it has a certain draw to it Havant and I think we will see more of those who moved away come back to the club.’

Eldest brother Joel, 29, served Havant with such distinction for more than a decade and is club captain.

After making his senior debut aged just 18, he has been one of the figureheads behind the club's rise back to London & South East level.

He previously played with brothers Jacob - while on Hampshire county duty - and Reuben during his brief loan spell at Havant from London Irish when he was a teenager.

However, other than in the back garden as kids, the trio have never shared the same field on the same side - and Joel cannot wait to be joined by them at Hooks Lane.

He said: ‘I’ve been lucky, so I played with Reuben when he did his loan stint with Havant and I played with Jacob at county (with Hampshire), but we’ve never really played together as a three so it’ll be nice to do that.

‘It used to be back yard rugby as kids growing up but that’s as far as it got, I’m quite excited by it, it’ll be good fun.

‘I’m really excited and looking forward to it. You could say that (looking out for his younger brothers), but they can probably look after themselves, to be fair.

‘I’ll do my bit, I would say I’ll be a good influence, but I’m not convinced.

‘I’ll try my best to impart some wisdom but they’ll be teaching me more than I’m teaching them!’

Fly-half Jacob, 26, returns to Havant after a spell at Championship Nottingham while studying at university in the city before a stint with Sutton & Epsom.

He admitted he was left with no choice but to move back to the club he came through as a colt with Havant and former team Sutton & Epsom in the same division this season.

Jacob said: ‘When Havant got promoted I couldn’t play against them so I decided to come back.

‘I’d always promised my dad if they (Havant and Sutton & Epsom) were in the same league I’d come back - I wasn’t ever sure it was going to happen - but I’m back now.

‘My favourite rugby that I’ve played is the county stuff (with Hampshire), we’ve done where I’ve been able to play with Joel. I’ve had a few run-outs, he’s a few years older than me so we didn’t really play age group together.

‘It’s good to be back and show them how it’s done!’

For Reuben, 21, he sees his move to Havant as the perfect place for him to find the rediscover the enjoyment for the sport he loves once again.

As a teenage prospect, he moved to take up a place on the London Irish Ace programme before earning a senior academy contract at the club.

Most recently he was with Ealing Trailfinders, but he's now departed the Championship team to link up with his two brothers and head coach dad Will at Havant.

And having the chance to complete the family set at the club that means so much to him was an opportunity he couldn't turn down.

Reuben said: ‘I can imagine it’ll be interesting at times (dad as coach and playing alongside two brothers), but I think we’ve all got pretty good relationships with each other. It’s never been an issue before, with other coaches dad has had his own input from the side and I’ve always found it very helpful.

‘I have massive respect for him as a coach so I’m always going to be keen for him to tell me how I’m playing and how it’s going.'The main reason for coming back, I wanted to get back playing and enjoying rugby, the last few years rugby became more of a choir, which I don’t think it ever should be.

‘I know with the players who are here and the friends that I have back here, I know I definitely will be enjoying.

‘The past couple of years I haven’t enjoyed rugby as much as I’d like to and I think coming back to Havant, I’m definitely going to enjoy my rugby here, and the opportunity to play with my two brothers doesn’t happen very often so it’s something I’m excited about.’