Wednesday 20 September 2017

Elwood's leadership hopelessly contaminated

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

THE moment Eric Elwood appeared on the dais at that Galway press conference this week was the moment he became ex-coach of Connacht.

That's why, even three days on, it's impossible to divine the logic of his announcement. What could it possibly achieve other than hopelessly contaminate his leadership of the province from now to the point of formal separation?

Elwood didn't just identify this as his final season as Connacht coach. He volunteered to step down mid-campaign if a suitable replacement could be secured.

For the Connacht players, this means that Eric is no longer the man making decisions about their futures, and we hardly need to invoke the experience of Alex Ferguson in 2001 to conclude that his authority within the dressing-room simply has to be undermined as a consequence.

Elwood, one of the most honourable and respected figures in Irish rugby, may have viewed this week's announcement as a simple exercise in transparency, but it is impossible to see how it can have anything but a negative impact on a season that opened so promisingly for Connacht.

So why make it five days after a coruscating demolition of Leinster at the Sportsground?

True, Elwood was duty-bound to inform the Branch of his intentions. But tossing the story out for broader consumption made zero sense. Connacht could have had seven months in which to discreetly track down a successor.

Now they might as well advertise today.

Irish Independent

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