The Danske Bank Schools’ Cup is always one of the highlights of the Ulster sporting calendar, but this season’s competition will have added significance.
With the historic grandstand at Ravenhill being demolished next summer as part of a £14.7 million redevelopment of the ground, the winning captain of the 2013 Danske Bank Schools’ Cup will go down in Ulster Rugby history as the last schoolboy to climb the steps of the old stand to receive the famous cup.
Ravenhill opened in 1923 and has played host to Schools’ Cup finals for almost 90 years. The final is the second oldest rugby competition in the world; it was first staged in 1876 with Royal School Armagh the inaugural winners.
A preliminary round has already been played in this season’s competition. Larne Grammar School beat Cambridge House School on Saturday to book their place in round two. They will now face a trip to Regent House in the second round.
Belfast High School host Banbridge Academy and Carrickfergus Grammar welcome Lurgan College.
Last year’s beaten finalists, Ballyclare High School, will enter the competition along with seven other seeded teams in the fourth round in February.
Robert Garrett, Head of Corporate Banking with Danske Bank and Stephen Black, Headmasters’ Representative at the IRFU Ulster Branch, made the draw for the second round, which will be played on Saturday, January 12. The draw is as follows: Royal School Dungannon v Wellington College; Belfast High School v Banbridge Academy; Foyle & Londonderry College v Portora Royal School; Carrickfergus Grammar School v Lurgan College; Antrim Grammar School v Friends’ School, Lisburn; Regent House School v Larne Grammar School.
The winning teams from the second-round matches will be joined by 10 teams in round three: Bangor Grammar, Belfast Royal Academy, Coleraine Academical Institution, Dalriada School, Down High School, Grosvenor Grammar, Limavady Grammar School, Omagh Academy, Portadown College and Rainey Endowed School. Third-round matches will be played on Saturday, January 26.
Mr Garrett, said: “The exciting developments ahead for Ravenhill will no doubt bring an added sense of occasion to what is always a thrilling finale to this prestigious tournament. For Danske Bank, as well as for the schools, coaches, teams, their families and supporters, the excitement has already begun and the draw is always eagerly anticipated by players and followers alike. Danske Bank is delighted to play its part in supporting rugby talent to thrive and our employees always look forward to supporting local schools in their Schools’ Cup journey each year.”