Connacht rewarded for improving standards in discipline and tackling

Connacht wrapped up their first Rabodirect Pro 12 season under coach Pat Lam with a disappointing 45-20 defeat to Ospreys, but there was some reward for a solid season.

For the first time Connacht claimed the SpecSavers Fair Play Award - sharing the £10,000 prize with Ulster which goes into youth development.

The award is presented to the team with the fewest yellow and yed cards, and citings over the 22 games. The award is a credit to Connacht for their improving discipline, and although Connacht had three more yellow cards than Ulster ( 11 ), they both finished with 11 points as a result of a red card for Mark Ancombe’s side.

The second award Connacht won was the Rhino Collision Kings Award for the team in the Pro 12 that has shown the most improvement at the breakdown throughout the season. A panel of experts assessed the shortlisted teams, Connacht, Glasgow Warriors and Treviso, for their efficiency at the breakdown and tackling.

It made up for a disappointing conclusion to the season which saw Connacht fall another place, finishing 10th in the Pro 12 table.

Interestingly both Treviso and Connacht gained the highest number of losing bonus points, having lost seven fixtures by seven points or less.

“There are fine margins,” says Lam. “ There were 10 games we could have won this year, but lost. Our goalkicking percentage was just over 50 per cent, which is not good enough. We also had some big calls against us for which we received apologies, and, of course, we made mistakes.”

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