Bann’s own Mr Miyagi prepares Inst for decider

Bann's Daniel Soper has turned all philosophical as he pens his pre-match speech. Picture credit: John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL
Bann's Daniel Soper has turned all philosophical as he pens his pre-match speech. Picture credit: John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL

“First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.”

Not only has Banbridge and RBAI Head Coach Daniel Soper followed Mr Miyagi’s advice and learned his trade, he’s also mastered a pretty good impersonation of the Karate Kid’s mogul.

As he prepares his Inst side for Tuesday’s Schools’ Cup final, he’s armed with some cryptic advice for his lads before they step over that white line.

While watching the 1984 film ‘Karate Kid’, Soper must have taken all the advice, intended for his on-screen name-sake, to heart. So what’s his big pre-match speech?

“Dance or forget all that you’ve brought to the dance,” he says.

It’s even more profound than ‘Wax-on, Wax-off’ could have managed himself. So, as no doubt his young squad will ask in the Ravenhill changing rooms while they prepare to face Wallace, what’s he on about?

“It means to do what we do well and try to avoid doing what we don’t do so well. If you dance with the girl that you brought to the dance, you won’t get into trouble.”

Advice for life as well as for rugby.

If his side are half as good at playing as he is at talking, they’re certs to pick up the 139 year-old trophy for the 30th time in the school’s history.

“At the start of the schools’ season, the boys have this dream,” said Soper. “It’s the pinnacle of schools’ rugby and everyone has the desire to get here. To be in it is absolutely fantastic but we’re not satisfied just to get there.

“If we play well and win, that would be great but if we play well and lose, at least we’ve done all we can. We just want to go out and give our best performance.”

Soper’s side are the only Ulster team to stop Wallace this season, securing a hard-earned draw back in December.

“They’re a very good side,” he said.“They’re unbeaten in the province this year. Our draw is the closest anyone has come to beating them this year.

“We’ve only lost once to another Ulster side this season ourselves so we’re having a pretty good season. Our draw against them shows how closely matched the teams are.

“It all comes down to how each team deals with the pressure. It might come down to one moment.”

Soper pitted his schools’ side’s wits against those of his club team last week at training.

“We trained there on Tuesday for something a little bit different. The club have been really supportive. They understand that this is a busy time of the year for me and they’ve been very accommodating.”

Soper will turn his attentions back to club rugby on Friday as his Bann side host Queens in the Ulster League (kick-off 7.30pm).