1895 Cup final win is massive boost for Featherstone Rovers: Stand-in boss Paul March reflects on Wembley victory over York City Knights

The newly-won 1895 Cup won’t be spending much time in Featherstone Rovers’ trophy cabinet, acting-coach Paul March says.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 4:45 pm

As well as being an assistant to team boss James Webster March works in the community as a development officer for the club and will be making sure the silverware is put to good use.

March stepped up to coach the team in their 41-34 win over York City Knights after Webster tested positive for Covid-19.

He reckons a first Wembley appearance since 1983 - and victory in the big game - will have the town buzzing.

Featherstone Rovers show off the 1895 Cup to their fans at Wembley. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“It showed on Friday [when the team set off to London] what it means to everybody,” March said.

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“Schools were out, there were people down Station Lane and the full community spirit was there.

“I am going to go into schools [today] and I will have the trophy with me.

Craig Kopczak celebrates his Wembley try with Rovers teammate Nu Brown. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“It is about educating the youngsters that Featherstone Rovers are one of the top teams and you support your local team. I am glad we have done it for them, as well as ourselves.”

It was a remarkable weekend for Rovers, who were without several players because of coronavirus.

March came out of isolation only two days ahead of the game and man of the match Craig Hall couldn’t join up with the squad until Saturday morning.

Captain James Lockwood travelled to London with the team on Friday, then immediately headed back north after his wife Stacey went into labour.

After returning to the capital on Saturday morning, he lifted the trophy and became a father for the second time.

York wiped out a 22-10 half-time deficit soon after the resumption, but Rovers regained control with 18 points in a blistering seven-minute spell.

March said: “It was important we stuck to the gameplan. We have a lot of experience in the team and those big-game players stood up.

“We got back to playing how we wanted to, move the ball around, take the space and hit them through the middle.

"The quick tries certainly got us back into the game after York had put a massive push on.”

March added: “From York’s point of view, I think he used his last sub with about 20 minutes to go, which was a bit strange, but obviously the occasion, the weather and us keeping the ball for 10 minutes sapped their energy and took us over the line.

“Speaking to the players afterwards, a lot of them were dead on their feet.”

Dane Chisholm kicked a late drop goal when Rovers led by 12 and that proved a wise decision as York rallied with a long-range interception try two minutes from time.

“I'd already spoken to Dane at half-time about making sure we managed the game and if we got the opportunity to go two, three or even four scores in front, take that," March revealed.

"He certainly did.”