Connacht Rugby can confirm the following players will depart the club next month at the end of their respective contracts.
 
Tom McCartney has announced his retirement from rugby and has returned to New Zealand after six years with Connacht. The hooker has amassed 112 appearances for the province and started in the 2016 Guinness PRO12 Grand Final.
 
Fellow centurion and Connacht native Eoin McKeon departs Connacht having played 137 times since his debut in April 2010, and was also a member of the 2016 PRO12 winning team.
 
Back-three duo Niyi Adeolokun and Darragh Leader depart having also featured in the 2015/16 campaign, with the pair amassing 94 and 91 caps respectively.
 
Trio Kyle Godwin, David Horwitz and Joe Maksymiw have completed their two-year contracts after joining in the summer of 2018.
 
As previously announced, Colby Fainga’a and Robin Copeland will join French sides Lyon and Soyaux Angouleme respectively.
 
Finally front-rowers Rory Burke and Peter McCabe have completed their contracts, while Angus Lloyd departs to pursue a medical career – having passed his medical exams while under contract at Connacht.
 
Commenting on today’s announcement, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend says:
 
“The nature of professional rugby means there will always be comings and goings. I would personally like to wish all our departing players every success in the future and thank them for their contributions to Connacht Rugby, both on and off the field.
 
We all share in the players’ disappointment that they were unable to get a proper send-off at the Sportsground due to COVID, but they can be always assured of a warm welcome by the club and our supporters at any time in the future.”

The Connacht Eagles took to the Union Point field in Weymouth, MA yesterday afternoon for their open game of the first ever Cara Cup in the United States.
 
In bright but breezy conditions, the Eagles put in an accomplished performance to run away with a 38-7 victory over tournament hosts and Major League Rugby side the New England Free Jacks.
 
The visitors led 12-0 at the break thanks to tries from Sean O’Brien and Neal Moylett, and further scores were to follow after the break from Hugh Lane, Mark Balaski, Colm de Buitlear and Robin Copeland.
 
Next up for the squad is an inter-pro clash with Ulster A at the same venue on Wednesday evening (7pm local, 11pm Irish)

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made five changes to his starting team to face the Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14 in Bloemfontein on Saturday (kick-off 3pm Irish time).
 
Into the side comes hooker Tom McCartney, lock Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle and Robin Copeland in the back row and winger Niyi Adeolokun. Connacht are aiming to back up their bonus point win over the Southern Kings last week with a second win on their South African tour.
 
The inclusion of the experienced McCartney sees him join a front row alongside props Denis Buckley and Conor Carey. In the second row, Ultan Dillane joins Thornbury who is set to start his first game since returning from a shoulder injury that he picked up in the win over Scarlets earlier in the season.
 
In the back-row Copeland at number 8 and Boyle at blindside will line up alongside skipper Jarrad Butler.
 
Adeolokun is the only change in the backline with his inclusion on the wing. He will be part of a back three that incudes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.
 
Jack Carty, man-of-the-match last week, continues his half-back partnership with Caolin Blade as do the midfield duo of Kyle Godwin and Tom Farrell.
 
While Head Coach Andy Friend was satisfied with the bonus point win last weekend, he says they were still left with plenty of areas for improvement this week: “The win against the Kings last week was hugely important for the morale among the group and it sets us up for the challenge of taking on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. The players have worked really hard in training over the two weeks. They have been hugely challenged in the intensity and physicality that we have worked on and they have responded really well. Coming over here we set ourselves the target of two wins and that firmly remains our goal.”
 
Friend is not underestimating the challenge that his side face, against the Cheetahs whose home form has been extremely competitive since joining the PRO14 last season: “We will need a step up in intensity and execution from where we were last weekend to challenge the Cheetahs. They are a competitive side who are well able to throw the ball around and open teams up and the boys are well aware of that. But we will continue to focus on our game and constantly improving ourselves and delivering a result”, Friend added.
 
#CHEvCON
 
Kick-off 3pm (Irish Time):
 
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Robin Copeland.
Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, James Mitchell, David Horwitz, Cian Kelleher.

Back row Robin Copeland is set to make his Connacht debut as Andy Friend’s side take on Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14 in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 5:15pm).

Copeland’s inclusion is one of six changes to the Connacht side that took on Edinburgh last weekend. Irish International Bundee Aki is also included in the starting XV having come off the bench in Murrayfield to make his first appearance of the season. Aki forms a midfield partnership with Tom Farrell who returns after recovering from a stomach bug that ruled him out last weekend.

Winger Cian Kelleher is named on the wing and is part of a back three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.

Prop Denis Buckley is back in at loosehead to make his third start of the season while Gavin Thornbury is named alongside Quinn Roux in the second row.

Copeland’s inclusion at number 8 sees him named in a back row that also features team captain Jarrad Butler at openside and blindside Sean O’Brien.

Commenting on Copeland’s impending debut, Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We have been really impressed with Robin in the pre-season both on and off the field. His energy and maturity have been a big addition to the wider group. He played 40 minutes for the Eagles side last weekend and he came through that ok after a niggly injury, so he is good to go for Scarlets”.

With last season’s finalists Scarlets and Leinster visiting the Sportsground over the next two weekends, Friend said: “Scarlets are a quality side and we expect a huge challenge from them. They are one of the top teams in this competition, so it is a massive game for us. We have a really healthy competition in our squad at the moment and that is exactly what we need as the big games keep coming”.

 

#CONvSCA

Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.

The Connacht management team have named the starting XV to face Bristol Bears in tomorrow’s pre-season friendly at Ashton Gate (k/o 7.45pm).

 

There are five changes from the team that beat Wasps in Athlone last week, with Robin Copeland making his first appearance for the province at number 8. The other change in the back-row sees James Connolly come into the starting lineup where he’ll play alongside Paul Boyle.

 

The front row is unchanged with Dave Heffernan captaining the team alongside Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham, while in the second row Ultane Dillane starts with James Cannon.

 

There’s a new half-back pairing with James Mitchell named at scrum-half with Jack Carty beside him, and the only other change sees Tiernan O’Halloran start at full-back while Cian Kelleher moves to the wing. Matt Healy, Kyle Godwin and Tom Farrell make up the rest of the backline.

 

 

Tomorrow’s game is the squad’s final pre-season encounter before the opening Guinness PRO14 tie at home to Glasgow on Saturday 1st September (k/o 3.00pm). The game is the first of four in The Sportsground during the month of September, and tickets for the Month Of Champions are now on sale at connachtrugby.ie/tickets.

The Connacht management team have released the latest squad update in advance of tomorrow evening’s friendly away to Bristol Bears.

 

Hooker:
Tom McCartney (ankle) and Jonny Murphy (chest) are progressing well with their respective injuries and will integrate into team training next week.

Lock:
Peter Claffey has returned to full training this week following his calf injury.

Gavin Thornbury is progressing well with his shoulder injury sustained in pre-season and will integrate into team training next week.

Back Row:
Robin Copeland has returned to full training this week following his hip injury.

Jarrad Butler (chest), Eoin McKeon (shoulder) and Sean O’Brien (calf) are all being managed this week by the medical and performance team for minor knocks.

Eoghan Masterson has undergone surgery for the thumb injury he sustained in the Brive pre-season fixture and will be out of action until October.

Outhalf:
David Horwitz is undergoing rehabilitation for a hamstring injury and will look to return to training shortly.

Centre:
Peter Robb is managing a neck injury and will partake in light training this week under the supervision of the medical team.

The starting XV to face Bristol Bears will be named later today (Thursday).

The Connacht management team have released the following squad update following last week’s pre-season friendly away to Brive.

 

Hooker:
Tom McCartney sustained a recent ankle injury in training and is progressing well with a return to training planned for early September.

Jonny Murphy sustained a rib injury in the game versus Brive last week and his progress will be monitored by the medical team this week.

 

Lock:
Peter Claffey sustained a calf injury in preseason and is due to return to training in early September.

Gavin Thornbury sustained a shoulder injury in preseason and is due to return to full training in early September.

 

Back Row:
Robin Copeland sustained a recent hip injury in training and is currently undergoing rehabilitation with the medical and fitness team with a planned return in the coming weeks.

Eoghan Masterson sustained a hand injury in the game versus Brive last week and will undergo surgery this week with his return date to be confirmed post surgery.

 

The Connacht starting XV to take on Wasps at Dubarry Park, Athlone this Saturday (k/o 3pm) will be named later today.

Robin Copeland is now two weeks into his Connacht Rugby career, having joined from Munster during the summer.

The back rower spoke to us about his initial thoughts on the Connacht setup and his aims and ambitions in the years ahead.

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce that back row Robin Copeland will join the province at the end of the current season. Copeland has made over 60 appearances for Munster during four seasons with the club and previously played over 50 times with the Cardiff Blues. He will join Connacht on a two year contract.

At international level, Copeland was capped for the Irish Senior International side when he made his debut against Georgia in November 2014. The back row has also represented the Irish Wolfhounds and Emerging Ireland sides.

Welcoming the signing of Robin Copeland, CEO of Connacht Rugby Willie Ruane said: “Robin is a player we have had on our radar for quite a while and we are delighted to have secured his signing ahead of the 2018/19 season. Robin brings incredible athletic ability and rugby experience to our squad and he will be a valuable player for us as we target further success in the season ahead. We are confident that he will be a great addition to Connacht both on and off the field.”

Commenting on his signing for Connacht, Robin Copeland added: “I have really enjoyed my four seasons with Munster and I would really like to thank everyone for my time there. I am now looking forward to the next challenge and an exciting future with Connacht. I have been really impressed with what has been achieved in Connacht and I am determined to be part of further success there. The club is well known for the importance it places on community and I look forward to representing them when I join up with the squad next season.”

 

 

 

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