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Schools’ Cup matches put back one week

By Niall Crozier

Although there is disappointment that tomorrow morning’s Northern Bank Schools’ Cup programme has been postponed, the organisers are in no panic.

Speaking after yesterday’s announcement that the Ulster Branch had called off every match under its jurisdiction, all schools’ games included, Barney McGonigle, the province’s best known doyen of the game at this level, said there is no need to worry at this stage.

“It’s disappointing but it isn’t a crisis. With a two-week gap between the rounds our hope is that we can get ourselves right back on track by playing the games which were scheduled for this weekend next Saturday, January 16,” he said.

“If we manage to do that we’ll be on target for round three, scheduled for the following week, January 23.

“Admittedly this is as bad as I’ve ever known it in 30 years of involvement in schools’ rugby. The weather we’ve been experiencing is affecting things in a way we’ve never seen before.

“That said, there’s an awful lot of goodwill and commonsense among the people involved in the schools’ game so I’m confident that with a little of that and a lot of communication we’ll manage to get caught up.

“At the end of the day everything about the competition is structured towards ensuring a March 17 final. And there’s nothing at all to suggest we won’t achieve that, so let’s not start worrying unnecessarily.

“First and foremost, of course, we’re schools, whose role is to educate. That means we have to work around modular examinations. But we’re used to that. I’m confident we’ll cope.”

Meanwhile the IRFU is determined that its cancellation of tomorrow’s AIB League programme “due to the current prevailing weather conditions throughout the country and the poor forecast for the coming days” will not be allowed to create a problem.

The Union has promised to reschedule those games, with new dates being issued next week.

The Women's Interpro finals, scheduled for Naas on Sunday, have been cancelled.

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