Monday 18 December 2017

IRFU commit to Connacht after 'legacy' overspend

IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne has confirmed that Connacht have a budget over-run, believed to be more than €400,000, but has stressed that it will not affect the Union's commitment to the province.

Browne asserted that the overspend was not related to this season, but was a result of a combination of factors that stretch back three years.

"It is important to clarify that this is not an issue relating to the current year, but is a combination of legacy issues from the past three seasons," Browne said in a statement.

"These issues will have no impact on the IRFU's commitment to the funding of the professional game and its support structures in Connacht."

News of the over-run comes in the wake of the IRFU's warning that challenging times lay ahead for the Union after the poor uptake of 10-year ticket sales last year.

However, Connacht believe that the problem will not affect their ambitious plans to develop the province in the coming season.

New coach Pat Lam has signed a host of new players and got his regime off to a winning start last weekend against Zebre.

Goal

Full-back Robbie Henshaw, meanwhile, says his next goal is to make the Ireland squad for the Autumn internationals. In less than 10 months the 20-year-old made his Pro12 debut, his Heineken Cup bow and then picked up his first caps for the Irish U-20s and Wolfhounds before making his Test debut against the USA.

"It was an all-go season and I didn't really have a minute to think about what I was doing," he said. "I'm just hoping to kick on and keep improving."

The target now is to keep cranking up big performances for Connacht – he was man of the match in the 25-16 win over Zebre at the weekend – and feature in Joe Schmidt's plans for the autumn internationals against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand,

"Hopefully I will keep going, keep improving my game and I will be up for selection for that."

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