The Connacht management team have named their squad of Eagles players for tomorrow’s return friendly fixture against Munster ‘A’ at Thomond Park (k/o 3pm).
 
Jarrad Butler captains a strong squad eager to get some game-time ahead of next week’s Guinness PRO14 season opener against Glasgow Warriors at The Sportsground.
 
14 players are among the replacements, three of whom – Sean O’Brien, Diarmuid Kilgallen and Oran McNulty – are currently training with the Connacht Academy.
 
The game will be streamed live on www.munsterrugby.ie.
 
CONNACHT EAGLES XV & REPLACEMENTS VS MUNSTER ‘A’ (SATURDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER @ THOMOND PARK – KICK OFF 3PM)
 
15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Peter Sullivan
13. Tom Farrell
12. Tom Daly
11. John Porch
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion
1. Paddy McAllister
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Jarrad Butler (c)
8. Paul Boyle
 
16. Denis Buckley
17. Jonny Murphy
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. Niall Murray
20. Quinn Roux
21. Conor Oliver
22. Sean Masterson
23. Caolin Blade
24. Conor Fitzgerald
25. Sammy Arnold
26. Sean O’Brien (Acad)
27. Colm de Buitléar
28. Diarmuid Kilgallen
29. Oran McNulty

Connacht Rugby would like to invite expressions of interest for the role of Team Manager with our age grade squads and regional talent squads.
 
We currently operate four regional squads, which are made up of the most talented u15 and u16 year olds in our Club and School games. These are located in various venues throughout the province. In addition there are Connacht age grade squads at U16, U17, U18 and U19, who have fixtures against the other provinces along with touring teams. This pathway has been a formative part of the development of many of our Connacht and Ireland professionals and it is very rewarding to be a mentor in the early part of their career.
 
The Team Manager is a volunteer position, and it is a key role in assisting with all the logistics required around training and fixtures. It would be anticipated that you would be available for the regional sessions (Monday evenings) and occasional matches, which may include travel to other provinces.
 
Full training will be provided and successful candidates will have to complete our Garda Vetting process.
 
To Register your interest please complete the link below.
 
We look forward to hearing from you:

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=apLJY8e08023pkvfMZvnHmlBX3ZiJRtIk0peZpzbW3BUNTlZUkhKQlFYNEoySllKUTU5OUVSR0wyQy4u

The EPCR Board has unanimously agreed that new Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournament formats will be introduced for the 2020/21 season.
 
The decision to alter the formats for next season on an exceptional basis has been made against the backdrop of the COVID-19 public health crisis and its ongoing impact on the professional club game in Europe.
 
The 2020/21 Heineken Champions Cup will be competed for by 24 clubs with the eight highest-ranked representatives from the Gallagher Premiership, the Guinness PRO14 and the TOP 14 securing their places.
 
The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 by means of a draw and the tournament will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage followed by a knockout stage consisting of home and away quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on 22 May 2021.
 
For the purposes of the pool draw, the clubs will be separated into tiers, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool. The number 1 and number 2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the number 3 and number 4 ranked clubs will be in Tier 2, the number 5 and 6 ranked clubs will be in Tier 3, and the number 7 and number 8 ranked clubs will be Tier 4.
 
The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.
 
The four highest-ranked clubs in each pool will qualify for the quarter-finals, and the clubs ranked numbers 5 to 8 in each pool will compete in the knockout stage of the Challenge Cup.
 
“With an expanded knockout stage and no repeats of domestic matches during the pool stage, this format creates brand new competitive opportunities for Europe’s elite clubs and their fans,” said EPCR Chairman, Simon Halliday. “In this time of change, the Heineken Champions Cup with its global stars of the game, its passionate supporters and its unique match-day atmosphere undoubtedly remains The One to Win.”
 
The 2020/21 Challenge Cup will start with 14 clubs – six from the TOP 14, four from the Premiership and four from the PRO14 – in a single pool. The tournament will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the preliminary stage and again, clubs from the same league will not play against one another.
With no requirement for a pool draw on this occasion, the 2020/21 Challenge Cup fixtures will be available to clubs and fans shortly following the conclusion of the current season.
 
The tournament knockout stage will consist of a round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals with the final in Marseille on 21 May 2021. The leading eight clubs, as well as eight representatives from the Heineken Champions Cup, will qualify for the round of 16.
 
QUALIFIED CLUBS FOR 2020/21 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP
 
PRO14: Leinster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Munster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Scarlets, Glasgow Warriors, Connacht Rugby, Dragons (Rankings TBC at conclusion of current season)
TOP 14: Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Racing 92, RC Toulon, La Rochelle, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Toulouse, *Montpellier or Castres Olympique
Premiership : TBC
 
QUALIFIED CLUBS FOR 2020/21 CHALLENGE CUP
 
PRO14: Benetton Rugby, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Ospreys
TOP 14: Bayonne, Castres Olympique, Brive, Pau, Agen, Stade Français Paris
Premiership: Newcastle Falcons (A further 3 clubs TBC at conclusion of current season)
*NB If not already ranked number one, the winners of the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup will become the second-ranked club from its league. If not already qualified for the Heineken Champions Cup, the winners of the 2020 Challenge Cup will take the place of the eighth-ranked club from its league.

Start of 2020/21 season: weekend of 11/12/13 December

The Connacht management team have as expected named a new-look side to face Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday (k/o 15:00). 

There are 14 changes from the side that impressively saw off Ulster last weekend, with Andy Friend keen to give game-time to more players after a long absence due to COVID-19.

Among those starting is Sammy Arnold who makes his first Connacht appearance at outside-centre. The Irish international arrived in the summer and his debut comes against the side he joined from.

There’s also an inaugural start for powerful number 8 Abraham Papali’i. The New Zealander was signed from the Bay of Plenty and he forms a back row with Conor Oliver and Eoghan Masterson who is the only player retained from last week.

Quinn Roux captains the side having recovered from injury to take his place in the second row alongside Niall Murray, with Paddy McAllister, Shane Delahunt and Dominic Robertson-McCoy completing the pack.

Sunday’s half-back pairing consists of Caolin Blade and Conor Fitzgerald, while Arnold will be partnered in the centre by Tom Daly.

The experienced Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy are included in the back three, while there’s also a first appearance for Colm de Buitléar since January 2019. The winger from Carraroe played four times during 2018/19 while in the Connacht Academy, but hasn’t featured since suffering a serious achilles injury in the 2019/20 pre-season.

Commenting on his team selection, Head Coach Andy Friend says:

“Our key objective in these two games has always been to give players some much needed game-time while putting in two positive performances which reflects the work they’ve put in as a squad these past few months. Thankfully we’ve so far managed to do that after last week’s excellent result. Now is an opportunity for a new group of players to impress so I’m looking forward to seeing them in action.”

Regarding the game itself, Friend added:

“Interpros against our neighbours Munster are always keenly contested and Sunday will be no different. They have a Guinness PRO14 semi-final to clinch but we’ll be looking to end our 2019/20 campaign on a high. We’ve also got two players making their Connacht debuts in Sammy Arnold and Abraham Papali’i so it’ll be a special occasion for them.”

 

CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 V MUNSTER RUGBY

15:00, Sunday 30th August @ Aviva Stadium

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Colm de Buitléar
13. Sammy Arnold
12. Tom Daly
11. Matt Healy
10. Conor Fitzgerald
9. Caolin Blade
1. Paddy McAllister
2. Shane Delahunt
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Niall Murray
5. Quinn Roux (C)
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Conor Oliver
8. Abraham Papali’i

16. Jonny Murphy
17. Conor Kenny
18. Matthew Burke
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Sean Masterson
21. Stephen Kerins
22. Peter Robb
23. Conor Dean

 

Irish International Bundee Aki will make his 100th appearance for Connacht on Sunday after he was named to start in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Ulster at the Aviva Stadium (k/o 4.30pm).
 
Aki joined Connacht in 2014 and has gone on to play a central role in the province’s fortunes since then. He was named Guinness PRO12 Player of the Season in 2015/16, the same year he helped the team to their first ever title.
 
His form was rewarded with a first call-up to the Ireland squad in the 2017 Autumn Internationals. He has been an ever-present member of the squad since then, making 26 appearances and starting every game in the Grand Slam victory of 2018.
 
Elsewhere at least two players will make their Connacht Rugby debuts on Sunday with Alex Wootton and Academy graduate Peter Sullivan both named on the wings. They form a back three with John Porch who slots in at full-back.
 
Tom Farrell will partner Aki in the centre with Irish international Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty forming a formidable half-back partnership.
 
In the forwards there’s a return to action for prop Finlay Bealham after sustaining a serious injury against Edinburgh in February, and he makes up an experienced front-row with Denis Buckley and hooker Dave Heffernan.
 
Ultan Dillane and Gavin Thornbury have been named in the second row, and the starting XV is completed by flankers Eoghan Masterson and captain Jarrad Butler, with Paul Boyle named at number 8.
 
Three more players could make their Connacht debuts off the bench, with props Jordan Duggan and Jack Aungier, and back row Conor Oliver all included.
 
The remainder of the replacements is made up of Jonny Murphy, Niall Murray, Stephen Kerins, Conor Dean and Tom Daly.
 
Connacht Rugby Head Coach Andy Friend says there’s huge excitement about returning to action:
 
“It has been almost 6 months since our last game and 2 months since we commenced pre-season training, so we are delighted our return has finally arrived. I have been really impressed with how the squad as a group have reacted to the uncertainty of the last few months, and it’s now our opportunity to show that hard work against an opposing team.”
 
Commenting on his team selection, Friend added:
 
“We have selected a squad of 23 that we believe can win this fixture. We have a neat blend of experience & youth, with the potential of five new debutants for Connacht, along with Bundee making his 100th appearance. It’s therefore a special occasion in many ways, and we intend to put out a performance that warrants that.”
 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS ULSTER RUGBY
16:30, Sunday 23rd August @ Aviva Stadium

15. John Porch
14. Peter Sullivan
13. Tom Farrell
12. Bundee Aki
11. Alex Wootton
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion
1. Denis Buckley
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Jarrad Butler (c)
8. Paul Boyle

16. Jonny Murphy
17. Jordan Duggan
18. Jack Aungier
19. Niall Murray
20. Conor Oliver
21. Stephen Kerins
22. Conor Dean
23. Tom Daly

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce global technology firm Genesys as the club’s new Principal Partner.
 
Genesys will take prime position on all Connacht Rugby apparel for the next three seasons, including the 2020/21 Home, Away and European kit.
 
Our new Principal Partner will also feature on our full retail range which will be unveiled next month through Connacht Rugby’s Official Retail Partner Intersport Elverys.
 
Genesys will also become Title Partner for the Connacht Women’s Team – a hugely positive development that will help drive the growth of the women’s game in the West of Ireland.
 
Genesys helps thousands of organisations across 100 countries deliver more than 70 billion exceptional customer interactions annually. The company has had a presence in the West of Ireland since acquiring Altocloud in February 2018 after which it pledged to invest in talent and the future growth of Galway City. Its Woodquay Court offices now serve as its global centre of excellence for artificial Intelligence (AI). Genesys is on track to meet its aggressive growth objectives in the region, and sponsorship of the Connacht club demonstrates its plans for continued investment in the province.
 
Commenting on today’s news, CEO of Connacht Rugby Willie Ruane says:
 
“The announcement of Genesys as our new Principal Partner is a hugely significant day for everyone associated with Connacht Rugby. Genesys is a company with firm roots in the West of Ireland. It Is an organisation with huge ambitions and some of the world’s best talent. We look forward to helping Genesys grow and scale their presence in Ireland. It’s been a pleasure to work with the team at Genesys and we are eager to build an exciting partnership between our two organisations in the years to come.”
 
“We are proud to partner with Connacht Rugby,” said Barry O’Sullivan, executive vice president and general manager, Genesys Multicloud Solutions. “This partnership is a fantastic opportunity to connect with the local community and with the wider global rugby audience. It also provides Genesys a platform to foster the region’s talents in computer science leading to exciting future career paths in the West of Ireland.”
 

Would you like to help shape the future of Irish Rugby?
 
Applications are now open for volunteering vacancies on the IRFU Youth Council, for further information on the work of the Youth Council, please see their terms of reference HERE.
 
The aim of the programme is to advocate for and on behalf of all youth and ensure there is a range of opportunities where youths can have their voices heard.
 
Candidates should be an active member in their rugby club, should be aged 18-24 and must be committed and passionate about youth rugby.
 
Candidates are being recruited from all four provinces.
 
How To Apply
Please read the terms of reference carefully and complete the application form at the bottom of the page and email the completed form to [email protected]
 
Candidates will be contacted by the Youth Council Co-Ordinator to set up an interview.
 
Should the applicant meet the criteria, the candidate will be invited to attend regular meetings.
 
The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 18th September.

The Connacht squad are busy continuing preparations for the Guinness PRO14 interpro against Ulster on Sunday week – their first game in nearly six months.
 
Andy Friend’s side last took to the field at Port Elizabeth in a bonus point win over the Southern Kings before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of the rugby season.
 
Now, the squad are working towards their #ReturnToRugby, and you can check out the latest pics below.
 

The brand new Connacht Rugby Summer SkillZone with totalhealth Pharmacy has seen bookings in huge numbers since its initial launch last week.
 
The series, which sees two-hour, one-day camps take place in 10 clubs across Connacht, begins this Friday. Two of those camps, at Galwegians RFC and Creggs RFC, are now completely SOLD OUT with just a handful of spots left in places like Connemara RFC, Ballinasloe RFC and Tuam RFC.
 
In these two hours, children will get to relive the enjoyment of rugby in their community with fellow players their own age, all under the guidance of fully accredited IRFU and Connacht Rugby coaches.
 
Most importantly, these SkillZones will be held in a safe and healthy environment, where the wellbeing of all attendees will be of absolute paramount importance.
 
Connacht Rugby would encourage parents, particularly in Loughrea, Sligo and the Mayo vicinity of Westport, Castlebar and Claremorris, to avail of the opportunity of sending their kids to a Summer SkillZone in advance of the planned reopening of the schools next month.
 
Joe Gorham, Head of Rugby Development at Connacht Rugby, says they have been blown away by the response to the Summer SkillZone series:
 
This has been a summer unlike any other. While there have been some extremely challenging times for everyone associated with rugby in Ireland, I am delighted to see such a positive response to our return to the Connacht communities with the Summer SkillZone series.
 
We are thrilled to see so many events already sell out, but I would also encourage everyone to consider a spot for their sons and daughters in one of our other camps where there is limited availability.
 
The Summer SkillZone is our first step towards a ‘new normal’ and we can’t wait to get it all started. We’d also like to say a particular thank you to our partners totalhealth Pharmacy for their continued support, particularly in these difficult times.”

 
For full details on our Summer SkillZone series, and to book a place, click on the link below.
 
BOOK A SUMMER SKILLZONE SPOT HERE

Connacht Rugby Club & Community can now confirmed the below roadmap for the return of Junior Rugby in the province.
 
The following was agreed after many weeks and months of planning on the back of the unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic. It involves reduced League formats and other adjustments to the Cup competitions.
 
Full details can be found below, or CLICK HERE for a PDF of the 2020-21 season plan.

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