Saturday 16 December 2017

Blackrock stand in way of Clongowes' defence

Tony Ward

Tony Ward

NEXT YEAR will mark a momentous year in the Leinster Schools Rugby calendar, with the 125th Senior Final taking place at the RDS on St Patrick's Day.

The first cup final was won by Blackrock College and the Williamstown school has dominated the competition ever since -- next year they will be setting out in search of a 67th title.

Holders Clongowes Wood College will begin their trophy defence against Qualifier 3 (most likely Pres Bray) in the loaded bottom half of the draw. The winner of that could then face the might of Rock in the quarter-final.

Below that again is a real scrap in the making, with four of the strongest sides in the province all grouped together. Kilkenny will not be fazed at taking on St Mary's, while Belvedere and St Michael's front up in what appears the tie of the round.

The school to emerge from that quartet has every right to a place in the semi-final but the lopsided nature of the draw -- made by Leinster players Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Andrew Conway -- will see either Rock or Clongowes the opposition in the penultimate game.

The top half too will be wide open, with Terenure the likely favourites. Beyond that take your pick from St Gerard's, CBC, CUS, St Andrew's and either Newbridge or King's Hospital as the other most likely to make it through to the final four.

In the Junior competition, defending champions Terenure have been drawn against Clongowes in the stand-out clash of the opening round. Blackrock against CBC is another mouth-watering affair. Here, Rock will have their work cut out, while St Michael's will face a severe examination against St Andrew's.

Kilkenny and St Mary's will be sick of the sight of each other, given the Junior draw replicates that of the Senior, although there appears a little more balance in the U-16 competition.

The dates and venues for both Powerade-sponsored tournaments have yet to be decided and will be released in the coming days.

Irish Independent

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