Limavady Grammar hope to gain edge against Cambridge House
Limavady Grammar coach Stephen Barr will have no fear in taking his team on the road to Cambridge House on Saturday, for two reasons.
On the one hand the north west side have become away day specialists in the past couple of years and indeed made it through to this stage by defeating Friends on their own patch.
But there’s also a secret weapon in the Limavady camp in the shape of new principal Robert Wilson.
The rugby-mad headmaster has just joined the school from Saturday’s opponents and is looking forward to a quick return to his old stomping ground.
“There’ll be no divided loyalties, I’m a Limavady man through and through now,” said Mr Wilson.
“I’m looking forward to it, it should be a very good match. I’m expecting a hard but very sportsman-like encounter in Ballymena.
“I was the chairman of the Rugby Development Group at Cambridge House and I know how much work they and (rugby coach) Rab Gregg have put into trying to push rugby forward at the school.
“Hopefully we come through, though, and get the chance to go further ourselves.”
Coach Barr would have loved to have been welcoming the Ballymena men this weekend but yet again there’s another trip on the cards.
It’s not ideal, but he feels his side are well used to travelling by now.
“We played all our games away from home last year - apart from a replay and then again this year we were drawn away to Friends and now Cambridge House,” reflected Barr.
“Hopefully if we manage to win this one we will get a home draw but we aren’t looking too far ahead of ourselves.
“Cambridge House will go in as favourites - they have a fairly strong squad this year and I think they are probably seeing this as their year to do well.
“But we have been on our travels quite a lot and this team know what it takes to win away from home.”
He added: “We are still targeting a place in the last 16 which would be great for us and hopefully if we make it through this one we will be blessed with a home draw.”
Over by the Braid, Cambridge House coach Rab Gregg will have been confident at the beginning of this season that his side could have gone on a run in the competition.
However, he has been left perplexed by a poor run of form of late, going into this third round encounter having suffered recent losses to near-rivals Ballymena Academy and Larne.
“We haven’t been playing well lately,” admitted Gregg.
“We started off the season very well and in our first match of the season we played the Ulster Schools’ side and only lost by three points.
“We then went on a short tour to Gloucester and did well there but since then we haven’t been doing too well.
“Hopefully this being a cup match will give the players an extra boost and get us back to the way we were playing at the beginning of the season.”
As former vice-principal at Cambridge House, Mr Wilson, said, a lot of hard work has gone into raising the profile of rugby at the school and although Gregg will lose a lot of his players at the end of this year, he is hoping that this isn’t the culmination of those years of progression.
“Hopefully we can keep going,” he added. “We don’t want this to be a one-off after quite a few years of hard work in getting rugby to the forefront of the school again.”
Cambridge House will hope that their own Ulster Schools’ representatives will step up to the plate.
They have five players in various squads with full-back Roger McBurney and No.8 Stephen Mulholland the pick of their stars, while Gregg believes skipper Andrew Harbinson will be as influential as any.
“We move the ball well and have a fairly exciting back-row, so, weather permitting, that will be our strength on the day.”