- Doncaster travel to London Irish
- First-leg match report, here
Matt Challinor has been happy to stay close to home through his rugby career. In fact, the Yorkshire-born second row has spent his whole career in the county.
Starting out his career at Leeds, he then moved to Rotherham before heading to current club Doncaster Knights.
But as he enters the final years of his career, Challinor is already looking forward to a life away from the rugby pitch and making preparations for the next chapter.
Life after rugby
Challinor graduated from university with a business degree and then went back to study for a masters in project management.
He spends one day a week doing work experience for a construction company and is looking to add to his CV over the summer months.
He explained: “I think that it is really important that I have something to fall back on and it gives me peace of mind that I am preparing for life after rugby.
“There are some others at Doncaster who are the same as me and are thinking about life when they retire, but some of the younger lads don’t seem to think about it too much.
“If they get a bad injury, or fail to get a contract or their body gives up on them, then they might find it tough to adjust to the real world. It is something I have always worried about, I have a young family and I have to think about them.
“It is great being a rugby player at this level, but you are not making life-changing money, so I will have to work when I retire and it is good to make a start now.
“Wednesday is the only day I have off, so I go in and shadow the project manager for a day, it can be tough because you are only there for one day. But in the summer I will be able to put three or four weeks together at once.
“The biggest project I have worked on so far was a few years ago and it was in Leeds and it was called City House, it is the building that sits on top of the train station and I think it is worth about £25m. I wasn’t leading it, but it was very interesting to play a small part in that project.”
Different ball game
Away from the rugby pitch, and when the two sports don’t clash, Challinor can often be found in the stands at Hillsborough watching his beloved Sheffield Wednesday.
Challinor was at Wembley last May where the Owls narrowly missed out on promotion via the play-offs, and he hopes they can go one better this time around.
He added: “I am a big Wednesday fan. We did really well last year and made it to the play-off final.
“And then this year we have spent quite a lot and we are in good form at the moment.
“With Wednesday playing in the Championship there have been a lot of midweek games so I have been to about 10 games this season.
“When I was young and playing rugby on Sundays, Wednesday were in the Premier League and I used to go home and away most weeks on the Saturday.
“A lot of young fans these days cannot remember us being in the Premier League so it would be good to go back up. I went to the play-off final last season which was a bit of a disappointment, so it would be good to go back this year and put that right.”
Football is not the only sport that Challinor follows closely, he is also an avid boxing fan.
Although he thought he knew a lot about the fight game, the recent world title bout between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko did not go the way he expected.
He said: “I am a big boxing fan – or at least I thought I was. I watched Joshua’s win over Klitschko and I did not predict that outcome.
“I thought that the longer the fight went on then Klitschko would win and Joshua would be more likely to win early. I think that is the best heavyweight fight I have seen.
“I have been to watch boxing a few times, I used to go and watch Ricky Hatton quite a bit and the last few fights I have been to were Kell Brook fights. I like him as he is a Sheffield lad and I’m looking forward to his next fight against Errol Spence.
Home is where the heart is
Challinor is a Yorkshireman through and through and has no regrets about rejecting opportunities to move down south.
The Doncaster skipper says he is proud to have represented Leeds, Rotherham and the Knights – plus being around family helps with the babysitting.
He added: “I have had quite a few opportunities to move away from Yorkshire. There was a chance to move to Jersey a few years ago, but I am a Yorkshire lad and I have young children and so it is good to have family around to help us – especially when we need someone to look after them.
“I have a contract for next season at Doncaster and I am looking forward to that, I might get another year after that or that might be it. But I have enjoyed my career in rugby.”