Schools' Cup rugby: Plum tie for McNicol as Ballymena Academy draw Campbell College

John McNicol has been handed a plum tie for his first game in charge of Ballymena Academy in the Schools’ Cup.

McNicol left Cambridge House last year to join his current employers and the Co Antrim school have drawn last year’s runners up Campbell College in the last 16.

“As a former pupil of the school I know the expectations that come with the sport, the rugby and the Schools’ Cup, I’m very excited I’m looking forward to it and I know the boys are as well,” stated McNicol.

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“It’s going really well, in teams of the schools we have played in Ulster set up we are 10 and two with our record.

“The two loses were against Methody and Campbell College. It’s going well but we’ll see how the Christmas period goes, there is a lot of work and training to do but we’ll be ready. It is a very young squad.

“It is a new start for me the coaching squad is great, the boys are great and the school has been very kind and helpful with the programme and I’m looking forward to it, I don’t want to think about the past just everything moving forward.”

McNicol was happy to come out of the hat first.

“At the end of the day everybody wants a home tie and we’ll be ready for Campbell, we’re happy with the draw.

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Campbell coach Johnny Cuppit is hoping Campbell, who lost the final to Methody last year, can go one better this time around.

“It was one of those finals which could have gone either way but we couldn’t have asked any more of the players and sometimes the pain of losing the final you hope the next year you can respond,” said Cuppit.

“It’s (the final) a long way away but the hurt is still there and we’ll use that hurt to drive us.”

Danske Bank Schools' Cup round of 16

Ballymena Academy v Campbell College

Group B Winner v Down HS

Group D Winner v Ballyclare HS

Coleraine GS v Group A Winner

Sullivan Upper v RS Armagh

Belfast Royal Academy v Methodist College

Wallace HS v Best Runner Up

Group E Winner v RBAI

Fixtures must be played on or before 28 January 2023.