Sport Rugby

Thursday 27 July 2017

Elwood calls on IRFU to end uncertainty surrounding Connacht

Hugh Farrelly

WITH the start of the competitive season little over a week away, Connacht coach Eric Elwood has declared that he "needs answers" as he plots a path forward for the troubled province.

Elwood succeeded Michael Bradley as head coach at the end of last season and heads into the new campaign with uncertainty surrounding Connacht's future and a playing and management staff operating on one-year contracts.

The 41-year-old is adamant that the province must help themselves and says it is not a question of the IRFU handing them more money. However, Elwood admits to being deeply concerned by the situation.

"It baffles me," said Elwood. "We want help and to work with the IRFU but I need answers now because I need to be competitive.

tunnel

"I keep asking the question every week when I go into the meeting: where are we now on the contracts? I need to be able to promise these lads that there's light at the end of the tunnel.

"I don't think they (the IRFU) want to pull the plug," he added. "But we need to be given a goal, a purpose in life. We want to be one of four -- are we?"

The IRFU confirmed the review into the future of the province is ongoing but say there is no question of Irish rugby being reduced to three provinces at the end of the season.

"We have been working on producing a sustainable model for Connacht rugby for the past few months," said an IRFU spokesman. "It's an ongoing process to arrive at the best solution for Connacht and Irish rugby."

Connacht are the designated 'development province', but the lack of depth has seen the team being propped up by overseas players. A situation whereby Irish-qualified players lacking game time at other provinces are sent west would be a desirable one for Connacht and for Ireland coach Declan Kidney.

Irish Independent

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