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Methody must improve or forget Holy Grail: Wells

By Stuart McAvoy

Methodist College coach Nicky Wells has fond memories of the school which provides today's Danske Bank Schools' Cup semi-final opposition.

Wallace High School is where he began his teaching career back in 2000. He even managed to mastermind a victory over Methody in the 3rd XV Cup final in 2003.

Today will him see compete in his eighth semi-final in the nine years since he took up the reins from his father, David – the most successful coach in the history of the Schools' Cup, having led Methody to a record 14 finals with 10 wins, a draw and three defeats.

Wells junior was first to admit that his side was extremely fortunate to come out on top in the last round against their rivals, RBAI, in a real nail-biter.

"We were lucky to beat RBAI," he said.

"They were a complete side and we weren't at our best. If we are being brutally honest it wasn't really acceptable – our kicking game was second rate.

"We invited them on to us and they settled quicker than we did. Wave and wave of attack, they got their patterns going. For most of the game we looked second best."

While he believes his side have learned from that mammoth encounter, he insisted the players must be right mentally against his former school.

"Wallace have a balanced team, they play rugby and have a very competent goal kicker," he said.

"We just have to be disciplined, focused and look after our own side of things. We can't afford junior rugby errors which we committed against RBAI. They were criminal, really."

As a Methodist College former pupil who was coached by his father, he understands what the Schools' Cup means to the school. And that makes him very determined to add to the 40-years Wells dynasty.

The occasions on which he has missed out on cup success still haunt him, none more than the 2010 semi-final when Ballymena Academy turned his side over, even with Paddy Jackson steering the ship from 10.

Wells now has a Ballymena role himself; he coaches the Eaton Park club as well as Methody, insisting that he is able to give 100% to both. But Methody is in his blood; to him there is something special about the Maltese Cross and winning the Schools' Cup, or 'the Holy Grail' as he likes to call it.

"You don't get stale with it. Unlike a club, you have different faces every year which is a the real beauty of 1st XV rugby," he said.

"They buy into the traditional side of things, they love it and I feel responsible for making sure they get to Ravenhill and win the Schools' Cup.

"People will hate me saying this, but it's no real use to us getting to a semi-final and not winning it. It's not what we're about."

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