Hartpury University RFC have signed former Gloucester Rugby prop, Shaun Knight (left), ahead of the 2020-21 season – a timely arrival in view of the retirement of the experienced Rupert Harden.
Originally a product of the Matson club, Knight began his professional career at Kingsholm after developing in the Academy. In all he spent five seasons with the Cherry & Whites, making almost eighty appearances.
During that period he was capped by England at U20 level, being part of the Junior World Championship squads in 2009 and 2010.
in 2015 Knight left Gloucester for the Newport Gwent Dragons, before spending two seasons down the road at Bath. Most recently, he has been playing for the progressive and successful French club, Rouen Normandie, which is coached by former Bath and England scrum-half Richard Hill.
As a former Gloucester player, Knight will be no stranger to the environment at Hartpury, nor to the RFC Head Coach, Mark Cornwell.
“I’d been talking to Shaun since around Christmas time,” said Cornwell.
“In those conversations there were signs that he was keen to come back to the Gloucester area. I had worked with Shaun in his early days with the Gloucester Academy and it was clear to me that he’d have something to offer here.”
“He’s a good size for a tight-head and he will bring a lot of physicality. He also brings tremendous experience from playing in the Premiership with both Gloucester and Bath, as well as from the last two seasons in France. We were very pleased to be able to get the deal done.”
Knight’s arrival is most timely as, on a less positive note, the club will be saying farewell to another experienced tight-head in the shape of Rupert Harden (right) who has announced his retirement from rugby after a sustaining a neck injury in 2019. The injury was severe enough to require surgery and prevented Harden from playing any part in the abbreviated 2019-20 campaign.
Harden had joined the club on their elevation to the Greene King IPA Championship in 2017. Prior to that he had played for Richmond and Benetton Treviso, but is better known as a result of his five-year spell with Gloucester Rugby (2009-14), during which he was called up to the England tour of South Africa in 2012.
“We’d like to sincerely thank Rupert for his efforts with us during our early Championship seasons,” said Cornwell.
“Obviously, we wish him all the best for the future, inside and outside of rugby.”
It has been announced that Harden will join Denstone College, Staffordshire, an independent boys school, as their Director of Rugby.