When I came to Ireland last November to meet with the Connacht Board (PGB ) and hear their vision for Connacht Rugby, I took the opportunity to find out more about Galway and the rest of the province. I asked everyone I came across in my few days in Ireland, “What is it like there?”, “Tell me about Connacht?” “Tell me about Galway?” “What is the West of Ireland like?”
Without hesitation every single person launched into reams of positive stories about the people, the craic, the culture, the spirit and passion; and I thought “wow”. In my short few months here, all the wonderful stories about the West of Ireland have been confirmed. I knew the journey Connacht Rugby is on for the “West of Ireland is the Best part of Ireland” to spread through to rugby was one I want to be a part of.
Yes, we have the beautiful landscape, but it is the people and the way they do things here that has everyone outside of Connacht and around the world talking about this place.
I’ve also seen how passionate the players are about representing the people of Connacht. Men like John Muldoon, Michael Swift, Gavin Duffy, Andrew Browne and Ronan Loughney who live and breathe Connacht. They have ensured that people like myself, Craig Clarke, Jake Heenan and others come here knowing exactly what Connacht is all about.
They demonstrate the values of a true ‘Connacht man’ – respected, committed, tough, accountable and a team man. And they guarantee that we all live to those values and standards.
Connacht Rugby is more than just the rugby team – it’s the whole province. Today, we have 23 Connacht-born players but it is our entire squad who are representative of the people from Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim. We go out to visit clubs like Tuam RFC, Westport RFC and Castlebar RFC not because we have to, but because we want to. And we’re looking forward to meeting more Connacht people further across the province over the course of the season.
What makes Connacht Rugby so special and unique is the relationship between players, the fans and their province. Character grows from being tested and going through difficult times; Connacht Rugby has had its fair share of tests and trials over the years but through resilience, determination and pure heart from the people of Connacht we continue to grow and compete against the bigger provinces and clubs in Europe. We have grown closer together as a result of the support.
This is an exciting time in Connacht’s development, a time of change with new faces at training and around the club. New players have committed themselves to Connacht Rugby, and their wives, girlfriends, children have moved to the West to be part of our family. Your family.
We are working hard to build a successful province and create a genuine pathway for young indigenous players to be able to fulfil their rugby ambitions with Connacht Rugby.
This is only possible with the support we receive from you, the local community, whether it’s through sponsorship or most importantly, through Season Ticket sales.
Against Zebre, two weeks ago, I saw what it meant to the team playing at the Sportsground. The noise from the Clan Terrace and around the stadium as I made my way over to the new Coaches Box in the Main Stand was incredible. This is what drives us on as a province.
So, I encourage you, your family and your friends to join us on this journey by investing in a Connacht Rugby Season Ticket and the future of Connacht rugby, not to be a rugby fan but to be a Connacht fan which is different from anyone else in the world.
See you at the game this Saturday.