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Inst v Campbell College: RBAI captain Conor Field driven by Schools' Cup disappointment

By Jonathan Bradley

Having missed out on Danske Bank Schools' Cup glory last season due to injury, RBAI captain Conor Field vowed to make up for the disappointment this year.

He'll lead his side out for the St Patrick's Day showpiece on Thursday as the Belfast powerhouse look to overcome cross-town rivals Campbell College and secure back-to-back titles for the first time since the 1940s.

After being forced to watch from the sidelines when his side overcame Wallace High 12 months ago, Field admits that the pain of missing out has spurred him on throughout this campaign.

"There'll be nerves of course. It'll be my first final after I was injured last year," he said.

"There are boys who have been there and hopefully they'll share that (experience) to help us win this one.

"It was bittersweet last year for me, watching from the sidelines with Lewis McNamara picking up the trophy. I promised myself I might be here this year."

Last season's captain had been a valuable resource for Field this year - who is in the unusual position of skippering the side from the wing - and has offered plenty of advice on how to best lead a squad where there is always an anticipation of success.

"Lewis been really supportive in helping me as captain," said Field.

"He was a great captain. He managed to pick me up when we got beat by Campbell and Wallace (early in the season). He's shown me the ropes."

RBAI are in the middle of a real purple patch, with director of rugby Dan Soper in his third year at the helm, and are chasing history on two fronts.

With the underage side having already captured the Medallion Shield for a third year in-a-row, they are out to become the first team to win both that trophy and the Schools' Cup in consecutive years while, having also won the 2nd and 3rd XV competitions, no side has ever won a 'quadruple'.

Rather than being concerned with unique feats, familial bragging rights are on the line for Field.

"My brother has a Medallion Shield," he revealed. "I was put out in the semi-final so I'm looking to have something over him.

"My uncles, one played for Wallace in the Schools' Cup and got beat by Methody 30 years ago and the other played for BRA and got beat by Methody again.

Given the family history, he adds with a laugh: "Happy to dodge Methody!"

With Thursday's opponents having already taken care of that old rival in the quarter-finals, Field knows he is just one step away from the medal that cruelly eluded him a year ago.

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