Why Connacht can look to the future with confidence

Gerry Thornley has published a new book about the province's rise

BY Raf Diallo 21:12 Wednesday 16 November 2016, 21:12 16 Nov 2016

Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Back in 2003, the possibility emerged that the end of Connacht Rugby as a professional entity was nigh.

Fast forward to 2016 and the western province are reigning Guinness Pro 12 champions.

And everything points to them being "here to stay" according to The Irish Times rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley.

He has published a new book called Front Up, Rise Up: The Official Story of Connacht Rugby which tells some of the tales behind the team's history.

And the fact that many figures long associated with the team in different capacities still involved at distinct levels of the organisation bodes well according to Thornley.

"The great thing about Connacht at the moment is that you have Willie Ruane as the CEO, you have Nigel Carolan running the academy, you have Eric Elwood in charge of the club game, you have Gavin Duffy in charge of the marketing, you have Conor McGuinness and Barry Gavin on the PGB 


"These are all players who played in the Connacht team of the late '90s. It's the most professional run Connacht that's ever existed by some distance. They've lots of good people running the show off the pitch. You've got Jimmy Duffy in there."

And even if head coach Pat Lam were to move on the distant future, the structure is there.

"I think when he does move on, his legacy will be such that Connacht will be here to stay. They won't go," said Thornley.  

With an eye to Ireland's second November test against New Zealand on Saturday, he expects the All Blacks to be much improved from the side that lost to Ireland in a historic result in Chicago almost two weeks ago.

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