Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce the signing of back row Colby Fainga’a from Australian Super Rugby side the Melbourne Rebels. The 27-year-old made his Super Rugby debut playing for the Brumbies when Andy Friend was their Head Coach in 2010 and went on to play every game for the club in the 2011 season.

In 2014 Fainga’a joined the Rebels and in his first season was awarded the highest honour in the club when he was named the Players’ Player of the year.  This achievement was followed by his appointment as co-captain of the Melbourne Rising side in 2015.

The versatile back row has gone on to make 100 Super Rugby appearances, the latest coming in the Rebels clash with the Reds last weekend.

At international level, Fainga’a captained the Australian Under 20s side in 2011 and made 7 appearances that season.

Commenting on Connacht’s latest signing, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We are delighted to announce the signing of Colby Fainga’a ahead of the new season. When I was Head Coach at the Brumbies, Colby signed his first professional contract with the club, so I have an in-depth knowledge of the qualities he brings. With 100 Super Rugby appearances under his belt, Colby brings massive experience. In addition to his versatility on the field he has a fantastic attitude off it and will be a big addition to Connacht in the seasons ahead.”

Fainga’a will join up with the squad on the conclusion of the Rebels Super Rugby Season.

 

 

Connacht Rugby are pleased to announce the signing of Irish qualified lock Joe Maksymiw from Leicester Tigers ahead of the 2018/19 season.

 

Maksymiw is a product of the Leicester Tigers Academy and made his first senior appearance for the club against the Barbarians in 2014. This season he featured in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and made his Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup debuts for the club. 

 

A former student at De Lisle College and Wyggeston College, Maksymiw gained his first senior rugby experience with Leicester Lions at National League level. In the 2015/16 season he also played in the Championship for Doncaster where he spent a period on loan. The 22-year-old was part of England under 18’s tour to South Africa in 2014. 

 

Commenting on the signing of Joe Maksymiw, Connacht Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy said: “Joe is an exciting young player who we are looking forward to having in our squad next season. He is a big powerful lock who has progressed well at Leicester and he will be a good addition to Connacht Rugby”.

 

Speaking after signing for Connacht Rugby, Joe Maksymiw said: “I am hugely excited about signing for Connacht and cannot wait to get over to the Sportsground and join up with the squad. I have really enjoyed my time with Leicester and would like to thank them for developing me as a player over the past few years. I know there is huge ambition within Connacht Rugby to bring further success to the province and I hope to contribute to that next season.”

 

 

Connacht Rugby are delighted to confirm that centre Peter Robb has extended his contract with the province. The 23-year-old made his debut for Connacht against Russian side Enisei STM during the 2015-16 Championship winning season and has gone on to make 26 appearances for the senior side.

Commenting on the contract extension, Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane said: “We are delighted that Peter has extended his contract into next season. He is a big powerful player and gives us increased options in our midfield. He has been unlucky with injury this season, but he has worked really hard to get back to his best over the past few weeks.”

Speaking after signing his contract extension, Peter Robb said: “I am delighted to have signed a new contract with Connacht. It is great to be back on the pitch again over the past few weeks and I am determined to perform to the best of my ability in the Connacht jersey. I have been honoured to represent Connacht over the past four years and to have experienced success with the club. As a player group we are determined to bring further success to the province.”

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that centre Tom Farrell has extended his contract with the province up to the end of the 2019/20 season. The 24 year old has made over 20 appearances for the province since arriving in the Sportsground in January. Farrell was previously a member of the Ireland under-20 squad for the 2013 Junior World Championship.

 

Commenting on the contract extension, Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane said: “Tom has had a good start to the season and has really developed his game during his time with us. He is one of a number of ambitious young players currently in the squad and he has a bright future ahead of him. I am delighted that he has committed to Connacht for the next two seasons.”

 

Speaking on his decision to extend his time with Connacht, Tom Farrell said:
“Having spent some time in England in 2016 it was great to get an opportunity to sign for Connacht back in January of this year. I have been really impressed with the setup in Connacht and I think my game has benefited from the coaching I have received since arriving last season. I am delighted to be able to commit to the province for the next two seasons and hope to be part of more success for Connacht in the years to come.”

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that flanker Sean O’Brien has signed a two-year extension to his contract to take him up to the end of the 2019-20 season. The 22 year old Connacht native has made over 40 appearances for the province since making his senior debut in 2015. O’Brien has previously represented Ireland at Under 18, 19 and 20 level.

Commenting on the signing, Connacht Head Coach, Kieran Keane said: “We are delighted that Sean has committed to Connacht Rugby for another two years. Sean is a local boy, from a local club (Galwegians) and we are thrilled to see the way he has progressed through our academy and into our senior professional side. I have no doubt Sean will continue to sustain that level of progress in the years ahead with Connacht Rugby”.

Sean O’Brien added: “I’m absolutely delighted to extend my contract with my home province. In the coming two years I hope to represent the people and the club of Connacht with pride. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and hope to fulfil my personal ambitions and bring further success to the club.”

 

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce the signing of centre Pita Ahki. The 25-year-old signs from Mitre 10 Cup side Waikato having previously played Super Rugby with the Blues and the Hurricanes.

Playing for the All Blacks Sevens team Ahki won a World Cup Sevens medal in 2013 and helped New Zealand to a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He is also a graduate of the Junior World Championships having played for Tonga Under 20s in 2011 and New Zealand Under 20s in 2012.

Commenting on the new signing, Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane said: “Pita is a highly-rated young player who has played Super Rugby for the Blues and the Hurricanes. He is a strong pacey player who will add to our attacking options. I think he will fit in well at Connacht and I am delighted to be welcoming him to the province.”

Speaking on his move to the Sportsground, Pita Ahki said: “I am really excited about my move to Connacht. I am looking forward to the prospect of playing European and PRO14 rugby. Connacht have developed a huge reputation as a proud club with community central to everything they do. I can’t wait to join up with the squad and meet the Sportsground crowd.”

 

We are delighted to announce the signing of 25-year-old back-row forward Jarrad Butler as he joins Connacht Rugby on a three-year deal.

With 70 Super Rugby appearances to his name, New Zealand-born Butler is currently in his fourth season with the Brumbies in Australia and can play in all three positions across the back row.

Butler has been one of the Brumbies’ most consistent performers since a breakout 2014 Super Rugby season which saw him receive the club’s highest on-field honour, the Brett Robinson Players’ Player of the Year award.

Having moved to Australia from his native Wellington at the age of 13, Butler was identified as a potential professional while on a scholarship at renowned rugby nursery The Southport School in Queensland. He went on to represent Australia at every age-grade level including Schoolboys, U19s and U20s.

He made his Super Rugby debut for the Queensland Reds as a 20-year-old against the Highlanders in 2012 and moved to the Brumbies in 2014, where his first season thrust him into the spotlight as one of the leading back-row forwards in Australian rugby.

Butler’s leadership qualities have also been recognised and he captained the Canberra Vikings in the inaugural NRC (National Rugby Championship) in 2014, leading his side to the final. The competition’s top try-scorer, Butler was also voted the NRC Player of the Year.

After a strong 2015 season, Butler was recognised by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika who selected him to play for the Barbarians in England and praised him as an “aggressive” and “hard-working” back-rower who was “going fantastic for the Brumbies”.

Commenting on the latest player signing, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said:

“We are delighted to be signing someone of Jarrad’s rugby ability and believe he will be a big addition to our squad.

“As a back-rower who is equally adept in all three positions, he brings a huge amount of versatility to the team. He is an extremely talented player who has been on the Wallabies’ radar for some time.

“At a young age, Jarrad has already gained a great deal of experience as a leader in a highly professional environment and we look forward to welcoming him to Connacht Rugby at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.”

Speaking of the move, Butler said:

“I am extremely excited to be given this opportunity to join Connacht.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Brumbies, however this new set of challenges on the other side of the world is something that I can’t wait to embrace.

“I look forward to being part of this proud club, meeting the supportive fans and community, and most importantly doing everything I can to help Connacht be successful.”

Butler is the seventh new addition to the Connacht senior squad this summer following the arrivals of scrum-half James Mitchell, prop Peter McCabe and second row Gavin Thornbury along with Academy graduates Conor McKeon (scrum-half), Cormac Brennan (utility back) and Pat O’Toole (hooker).

 

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Academy players Conor McKeon, Cormac Brennan and Pat O’Toole have all been rewarded with senior contracts for next season.

23-year-old Conor McKeon earns his promotion to the senior squad after three years in the Academy. Having joined the Connacht set up in the summer of 2014, he made his senior and Guinness PRO12 debut away to Zebre that same season. He earned another PRO12 cap from the bench last season before making the switch from outhalf to scrumhalf.

Recently named the Academy Player of the Year, the former Ireland under-20’s international had a standout season with club side Buccaneers who he helped reach the AIL Division 1B title.

Back three player Cormac Brennan from Ballyvaughan in County Clare has been rewarded with a senior contract after two seasons in the Academy. The former Cistercian College Roscrea student has played with Galwegians RFC from a young age and went on to represent the Ireland Under-18’s Schools team in 2013. A student of Law at NUIG, 22-year-old Brennan has trained with the senior squad on a number of occasions but is yet to be capped.

Pat O’Toole will add further competition to the hooker position next season with Tom McCartney, Dave Heffernan and Shane Delahunt all vying for the number 2 shirt. 22-year-old O’Toole from Louisburgh in County Mayo started playing rugby with Westport RFC at six years of age. The former Gaelic footballer was capped at Ireland U19 level and completed two years in the Academy, playing with both the Connacht Eagles and Corinthians RFC.

Commenting on the new contracts, CEO Willie Ruane said:

“The talent coming through from our underage and Academy set up is vital for the future success of Connacht Rugby. It is really exciting for us to have three more young players coming through from the Academy into the senior squad.

“Conor, Cormac and Pat have shown that they have the desire and potential to succeed in a professional set up and we believe they have big futures in the game and with Connacht.”

Former Academy Manager and now Backs Coach for the new season, Nigel Carolan, added:

“I’m delighted for all three players that will take the step in to the professional squad next season. They make it 38 the number of graduates from the programme over the years which is something we’re really proud of.

“Conor has shown his sheer determination and drive to succeed by making the positional move from outhalf to scrumhalf. He refused to give up on his dream of professional rugby and I’m delighted he has got his opportunity.

“Cormac came under our radar when he started playing with Galwegians RFC at underage level. He returned to the province as part of the IRFU and Connacht Rugby’s succession plan and the move has paid off thanks to his own commitment and determination to continuously develop.

“Pat has come right through our pathway from under-15’s level when he was part of our regional development squad in Westport. He is the epitome of our vision of Grassroots to Green Shirts and his move in to the senior squad will provide inspiration for so many of our young lads looking to succeed.

“I’m really looking forward to working with these players at the next stage of their career.”

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