CAMBRIDGE House and Ballymena Academy are involved in Danske Bank Schools’ Cup action this weekend.
John Nicholl’s Cambridge House take on holders Methody College in Ballymena (10.30am), while John Andrews’ Academy take on Down High away from home.
Coach Nicholl told Guaardian Sport it is an “amazing draw” for them to have one of the most successful schools in Ulster “in our own back yard.”
“This provides the team with an excellent opportunity to play against some of the best athletes currently playing school boy rugby,” said Nicholl.
Of their 15 fixtures played this season Cambridge have won 12 and lost three.
“I think we played some of our best rugby before Christmas defeating Friends school, Lisburn, Ballyclare High School and Grosvenor Grammar, three sides also present in the last 16 draw,” and Nicholl.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s showdown with Methody Nicholl said noone gives them a chance, but points out his side earned every bit of their reward to have this opportunity.
“They have been simply fantastic with their efforts and attitude. Every player in the squad knows how good MCB are and every player will be ready to play for Cambridge House GS to the best of their ability.
Nicholl said he has worked with Methody’s head coach, Nick Wells at Ballymena RFC and knows how well he had the Eaton Park side organised.
No. 13, 17-year-old Rhys Ervine captains the Cambridge House side in his 3rd year on the 1XV.
“Rhys displays everything you would want in a captain. He is committed, fearless in approach and commands the respect from the rest of the team from his performances and leadership. And full credit to Andrew Wilson, Stuart Donald and Adam Brannigan who have also helped Rhys with leadership roleson and off the pitch this season,” outlined Nicholl.
The squad of 19 players will prepare as usual - working hard at training and getting the mind-set right.
“Everything else will fall into place on Saturday,” said Nicholl.
The teacher/coach thanks their main sponsors Leighinmohr House Hotel, Galgorm Manor and Marx Corporate for their kit sponsorship.
“I would also like to thank the parents of the Rugby Development Group who meet monthly at the school and support the staff, players and any supporters every Saturday morning,” said Nicholl.
He also praised the other school staff connected with the team - Tim Small (backs coach) from Ballymena RFC and Mike Stevenson (forwards coach) Ballymena RFC - “two fantastic, knowledgeable coaches who simply make the game fun for the boys.”
* Cambridge House Juniors will host Methody Juniors at 9.30am prior to the main kick-off.
Academy away to Down High
Former Schools’ Cup winners Ballymena Academy make the trip to play Down High on Saturday morning.
Coach John Andrews will be treating the oppositionwith the utmost respect.
Academy captain Matthew Corr said drawn away to Down High will be a good challenge.
“It will be a good game, I’m sure. We are just looking forward to it, no matter who it was going to be. We will try our best,” he said.
“There are 11 boys playing with the Ulster age grade over the summer which definitely gives a lot of boys experience at high level playing agaisnts the likes of Leinster, Munster and Connacth.”
Skipper Corr said that since last March when they started pre season there has really been hard work from all the lads.
He said the Threes, Twos and Ones have been involved.
“There is just a good group of winners in the team, they know how to do well,” summed up Corr.
“All the boys are bought into it. We are all looking forward to the big day. Hopefully we can get there and relish the opportunity. and do as well as we can. Basically it will be hard work from now.”
* Academy thank all their sponsors.