Following a review process and proposal by a working group of the Ulster Branch Schools Committee, a new format for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup has been agreed, which will come into effect from the 2019/20 season.
These changes reflect an effort to improve the player experience and provide more appropriate and competitive fixtures.
Commenting on the announcement of the new format, Ulster Branch Schools Committee Chairman, Stephen Black, said:
“The new format for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup was part of a bigger review process aimed at improving the rugby experience of young players in schools. During that review, we established an acknowledgement there was no ‘one size fits all’ solution for the rugby playing schools, that each school should be engaged to find ‘where they fit’ in any participation model, and any recommended adaptions should not increase the burden on already stretched school resources.
“What has been agreed is a progressive new format that will, whilst maintaining the knock-out stages of the Schools’ Trophy, Schools’ Bowl, Subsidiary Shield and Schools’ Cup, provide more meaningful fixtures for all our rugby playing schools where they can achieve success at their own particular level, while also improving the rugby experience of the players.”
Competing Schools have been allocated into 4 Tiers, according to the needs of participants, with the Tiers to be reviewed annually. The tiered groupings for the 2019/20 pilot are as follows:
Ballymena Academy, Campbell College Belfast, Methodist College Belfast, RBAI, RS Armagh, Wallace HS
Ballyclare High, Bangor Grammar, Belfast Royal Academy, Coleraine Grammar, Dalriada School, Down High School, Enniskillen Royal GS, Friends’ School, Omagh Academy, Rainey Endowed, Royal School Dungannon, Sullivan Upper
Banbridge Academy, Belfast High School, Cambridge House GS, Dromore High, Foyle College, Grosvenor Grammar, Larne Grammar, Limavady Grammar, Lurgan College, Portadown College, Regent House, Strabane Academy
Antrim Grammar, Carrickfergus Grammar, Wellington College
Tier 4 teams will opt out of the Schools’ Cup Group Stages, and will participate in a separate structure.
2019/20 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup
Tier 2 and Tier 3 teams will compete in group stage games pre-Christmas, in 6 groups of 4. The draw for the 6 groups will take place on Tuesday 14th May 2019 at a meeting of the Ulster Branch Schools Committee.
Group stage games will take place on three weekends (19th October 2019, 16th November 2019, 7th December 2019).
The top 10 teams (6 winners and 4 best placed runners-up) from the group stages will qualify for the knockout stages of the Schools’ Cup and Subsidiary Shield, where they will be joined by the Tier 1 teams. The remaining teams will then enter into knockout competition for the Schools’ Trophy and Schools’ Bowl.
Schools’ Cup Knockout Stages Dates:
Last 16: Saturday 8th February 2020
Quarter-Finals: Saturday 22nd February 2020
Semi-Finals: Tuesday 3rd March & Wednesday 4th March 2020 (Subject to confirmation)
Final: Tuesday 17th March 2020