Members of the NUIG sponsored Connacht Rugby Academy and the Connacht Rugby sub-Academy are fundraising for children’s cancer charity Hand in Hand, this November. The young players will attempt to grow moustaches as part of the annual Movember event to raise funds for the charity.

Hand in Hand offer a range of home support services for families affected by cancer. They help to reduce some of the stress and anxiety by engaging with local professional service suppliers to provide a tailor-made package of care to suit each family individually.

Academy Manager Eric Elwood is delighted that the players have taken it upon themselves to make a difference in the community and help this very worthy charity. Commenting on the initiative, he said: “The Academy and sub-Academy players showed great initiative to organise this fundraiser. They will all attempt to grow moustaches for the month of November and we will all be watching their progress with great interest! The Hand in Hand charity is a fantastic support service for families affected by cancer and they make a real difference to families in our community. We are delighted to be contributing to the great work being done by the charity.”

Speaking on behalf of Hand in Hand, Service Manager, Jennifer Carpenter, said: “We are delighted to have the support of the Connacht Rugby Academy members; community support like this is the life-blood of the charity – a heartfelt thank you to all involved and best of luck with the moustaches!”

As part of the fundraising efforts, Good4U the official Connacht Rugby snack supplier are supporting the Academy players. The Sligo-based company are holding a 5k fun run, in Sligo town to help raise funds for the fantastic charity. Commenting on their involvement with initiative, a spokesperson from Good4U said: “Dash in a Tash is set to be a bit of fun that people of all ages can get involved with to raise money in support of Connacht Rugby’s charity efforts. We encourage everyone to come along and don’t worry, moustaches will be supplied.”



NUI Galway and Connacht Rugby have announced an extension of their partnership until 2019.  NUI Galway became Connacht’s Academy and University partner in 2013, and since then 19 Connacht players have, or are about to, graduate from NUI Galway including current senior squad members Denis Buckley, Eoin Griffin, Eoin McKeon, Andrew Browne, Dave Heffernan, Jack Carty, Darragh Leader, Eoghan Masterson, Sean O’Brien and Conor McKeon.

Through the partnership, NUI Galway supports the Connacht Rugby Academy, and Connacht age grade player, particularly through the provision of structured third level education.  This year, 18 Connacht players across senior, academy and sub-academy squads are currently studying in NUI Galway in a number of disciplines including Commerce, Leadership, Law, Financial Maths & Economics, Science, Arts, Engineering, Computer Science & IT and Project Management.

As part of the partnership there is also an opportunity for some athletes from NUI Galway to benefit from Connacht Rugby’s high level strength and conditioning expertise.

Commenting on the extended partnership, NUI Galway’s Director of Sport, Mike Heskin said: “This partnership gives Connacht Rugby players the supports to realise their ambitions on and off the field by combining the student experience with life as an elite sportsperson.   Both organisations are focused on excellence, and since the partnership began, Connacht have succeeded in the Pro 12, while NUI Galway has risen to the Top 1% of world universities.  As this partnership evolves over the coming years we look forward to developing this culture of success while helping the next generation of leaders to reach their potential on the rugby field and throughout their careers.” 

Welcoming the continued partnership, Head of Commercial and Marketing at Connacht Rugby, Brian Mahony said: “We are delighted to be announcing the extension of this key strategic partnership with NUI Galway for a further two years. At Connacht Rugby we want our players to excel both on and off the field. Furthering their education is a key component to their personal development and having the opportunity to further their education in such a prestigious university is of huge importance. The partnership has been a huge success over the past few years and I have no doubt that it will continue to flourish into the future.”

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce Joe Gorham as the new Domestic Rugby Manager. He will head up the area of Club & Community for the province.

Joe replaces Eric Elwood who, after two years in the role, was recently appointed Academy Manager.

Before taking up the role at the Sportsground, Joe was employed as the Galway GAA Commercial Manager and prior to that, worked in the banking sector for over 30 years.

He has a long history of involvement with Connacht Rugby at all levels of the game. Joe represented Connacht Rugby and played with Connemara, Corinthians, Ballina and Ballinrobe RFC throughout his playing career.

Joe went on to coach Corinthians RFC at underage level before managing the Connacht Under-18’s and the Irish U-18’s sides during a period that saw the emergence of both Ronan Loughney and John Muldoon.

Joe also had a deep involvement in GAA over the years representing Galway, Mayo and Sligo at Senior Intercounty level and was a key member of the Galway Football Management Team.

Commenting on the new appointment, CEO Willie Ruane said:

“We are delighted to welcome Joe to Connacht Rugby. He has had a deep involvement with rugby across many different levels and brings with him an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the club and community game within the province.

“I have no doubt that he will build on the great work that Eric and the wider Club & Community team have already delivered.”

Connacht and Northampton Saints lock horns for just the fifth time on Saturday with the teams tied at two wins apiece after their first four clashes.

Each previous encounter was in the European Challenge Cup with the English club recording a comfortable 31-11 victory at the Sportsground in the first meeting of the clubs in October 1996. Connacht finished that European campaign fourth in their six-team pool of the inaugural European Challenge Cup.

Eleven months later, when the sides next met, the tables were turned as Connacht shocked Northampton with a stunning 43-13 victory in Galway with Warren Gatland at the helm.

Incredibly, three of the six scorers for Connacht currently hold roles at the province. Domestic Rugby Manager Eric Elwood kicked three conversions and four penalties with CEO Willie Ruane and Academy Manager Nigel Carolan both touching down. Former Ireland international Pat Duignan and ex-Ireland A man Shane McEntee were also try-scorers on the day with Mervyn Murphy, now IRFU Technical Analyst, kicking a penalty for good measure.

Connacht followed up that victory with a 20-15 win at Franklin’s Gardens in the first meeting of the clubs at the famous English venue weeks later. It was a landmark victory for the province as they toppled the highly fancied English club to top the four-team pool.

Connacht celebrate scoring against Northampton.

Connacht took the lead through John Maher after one of the side’s trademark moves off a 13-man line-out.

Out-half Elwood made the sweetest of breaks to create the second try for Junior Charlie, and Ruane put Carolan over for the third try.

That win secured a spot in the last eight but Connacht were undone 40-27 by Agen in France after a cracking quarter-final.

The most recent clash between the sides was again played in Northampton, back in April 2009, at the quarter-final stage of the Challenge Cup.

Connacht were well in the game and led with half an hour to play but indiscipline cost the province dearly and four tries in the final 11 minutes clinched a 42-13 victory for hosts Northampton.

In the winner-takes-all fixture between the sides on Saturday (4pm), whoever emerges victorious will progress to the following weekend’s Champions Cup play-off final at home to either Cardiff Blues or Stade Francais (depending on the result of their play-off) for that final Champions Cup spot.

See our latest squad update ahead of Saturday’s clash here.

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce that Eric Elwood has been appointed to the role of Academy Manager for the province.

Elwood, who has held the role of Domestic Rugby Manager with Connacht for the past two years, will take over from Nigel Carolan who starts in his new job as Backs Coach with the senior squad this summer.

Former outhalf Elwood was involved as a player with his native province for over 17 years and played 35 times for Ireland.

The Galwegian clubman coached the Ireland Under-20’s from 2006 to 2008, leading the side to the 2007 Six Nation grand slam.

Elwood held the position of Connacht Head Coach from 2010 to 2013. He coached the first Connacht team to compete in the Heineken Cup and brought a number of young Academy players, including Tiernan O’Halloran, Kieran Marmion and Robbie Henshaw through to the senior squad.

Commenting on the new appointment, Eric Elwood said:

“I’m delighted to be taking up the role of Academy Manager and look forward to building on the fantastic work that Nigel (Carolan) has carried out over the last number of years.

“In my current role as Domestic Rugby Manager I have gained direct experience of working with players at the entry point from age grade rugby to the academy. As head coach, I had the benefit of working with players recently graduated from the academy system and who were taking their first steps as professional athletes. I believe that these experiences will provide me with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the demands at Academy level.

“I’ve really enjoyed the past two years working with all the staff, clubs and schools in the Club & Community game and I look forward to seeing some of the young talent coming through to the Academy.”

Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane added:

“Eric’s appointment as Connacht Academy Manager is fantastic news for our province and for Irish Rugby. He has done a great job over the past two years growing the game of rugby across the entire province from grassroots level.

“His passion for player development in Connacht and his huge knowledge of the game make him well-equipped to work with our young Academy players and lead the excellent programme we have here at Connacht.”


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