ERGS Rugby captain Alex Parke has backed his team to make progress in the Schools’ Cup when they face up to Down High School on Saturday. 
The home tie against the Downpatrick based school marks the Royal’s first game of the tournament, and the captain reckons all the team are ready for action.
“Everyone is really looking forward to it,” said Alex. 
“They have all worked hard and this is the highlight of the year. We have had a lot of friendlies before Christmas but this is make or break now.”
Alex and first team coach Ashley Finlay both attended the draw, and did not have to wait long to discover their fate, with ERGS the first team to be drawn out of the hat. 
They have been pitched against team they have not faced this season, but despite the match being a step into the unknown, Alex admitted he was glad to avoid the big guns and take on the second round conquerors of Omagh Academy. 
“We were happy with the draw, especially a home draw,” he admitted. 
“To get a third round team, you couldn’t ask for much more. We haven’t played them so we don’t know exactly what to expect. 
“But they have already had two matches played and they might have a bit of a run going.”
Eighteen year old Alex will line up as a centre in a backline that he believes can take the game to the visitors. 
“We are a smaller team than usual but we have a good skill level in terms of passing and knowing where the space is,” he said. 
“We might not be the biggest but we pack a punch with our play.”
Going into the match as Captain holds no fear for Alex, who hopes his experience of previous Schools’ Cup contests will help in guiding the younger members of the squad through the high profile match. 
“I have had to step up in a leadership role and it is a bit different,” he acknowledged. 
“In the build-up you have to talk wise words. 
“There are a lot of young boys and fifth years in the team and this is their first Cup game so you have to really tell them in the build up to stay calm and don’t go over the top or do anything stupid in their first tackle. 
“There will be nerves but when we get on the pitch and make our first tackle or make our first run then we should settle in to it and hopefully it will go well.”