Ready to make history
Thursday, 23 March 2017
ROYAL School Armagh's Medallion XV have their sights set on creating a little piece of history tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, March 22) at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
The College Hill side make the trip to Ulster Rugby headquarters for their first ever appearance in the illustrious Medallion Shield final at 2.30pm.
Lisburn outfit, Friends' School stand between them and their first ever Medallion Shield triumph.
Armagh coach Gareth Beggs, who looks after the team with Simon Cardwell, said the team are determined not to return home empty handed.
“I think it is important for the boys to realise just how big an achievement this is and it is the first time we have ever got to this stage of the competition.
“At the same time we want to make sure the guys are concentrating on 60 minutes of rugby, not the surroundings or the hype.
“Our preparations have been very similar to what we would normally do and we have looked after anyone who has had any knocks or niggles.
“We have been working hard in training and we have put together a good strategy that will hopefully see us get the better of Friends' and lift the Shield."
Beggs admitted that it an incredible experience for his young side and has urged his charges to go out and embrace the occasion and play to the best of their ability.
“It will be a mind-blowing experience for them, everything from the trip to Ravenhill, changing in the home dressing room, the big crowd, running out to the roar of the crowd and the noise - these are things that every schoolboy dreams of!
“This can all add to the overall experience, but it can be very distracting as well.
“We know that they are still 15 year old boys and we want them to enjoy the excitement and the anticipation of the big day, but we know that we have to concentrate for 60 minutes of rugby.
“Friends' are the only school in Ulster we haven't beaten and they are coached by Ivor Monaghan, who is a former pupil here, so we owe them one!"
Beggs said that regardless of how this afternoon goes, they can be proud of what they have achieved this season.
“This year group have been a very special and a very talented group.
“We have gone to Belfast on three occasions and beaten Campbell, Methody and RBAI.
“They have gone to Lisburn and knocked out the favourites (Wallace High) on their home patch in the quarter-finals.
“In some respects, yes they have made history already, but is would be so much sweeter to go down in history as Medallion Shield champions."
Fellow coach Simon Cardwell admitted that Armagh have had to overcome some serious hurdles on their journey to the final.
“We have have travelled everywhere this season and I suppose one of the things about having a good squad is that teams simply don't want to travel to Armagh.
“We have played all of our Medallion Shield games away from home and we are used to travelling now and the boys are content with it.
“It would have been nice to have got a few more games on our home pitch, but the boys are settled and we are looking forward to going again on Wednesday."
Cardwell said that they are well aware of the threats that their Lisburn opponents will pose, but said he has faith in his charges to go out and get the job done.
“They have a very big pack and are very physical and have a great set-piece.
“They also have a very good out-half, who kicks well out of hand and has a good record in front of the posts.
“We are going to be mindful of all of those things when we take to the field and thankfully Ravenhill is a big pitch, so we will try and move them about a lot.
“We want to have a really high work rate and we want to keep the ball and keep it for long periods and simply tire them out.
“We know what they have, but we know what we have as well and we know that we are capable of keeping the ball in play for long periods and playing with a lot of intensity and energy."
While Armagh received a great deal of plaudits for their ruthless performance in the semi-final Cardwell said the panel are well aware that the job is only half done.
“We have been saying to the players that if they want to be remembered and go down in history then they simply have to go and win it.
“It is a game of rugby, that if they win, then they will leave their mark on rugby here at the Royal.
“All of them have been walking that extra inch taller over the last few days.
“They know that they have one more step in front of them and they have the appetite to go that one step further and lift the Medallion Shield come 4pm tomorrow afternoon."
Send to a friend
Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.