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Topic-icon Connacht to Enter B&I Cup

  • Diom
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9 years 3 weeks ago #75

Looks like Elwood is gearing the province up for B&I cup participation. That's a great idea, but I imagine that the local clubs will be non-too-happy with yet more of their top players getting dragged into the Connacht setup. That's not anything I've heard personally so would be thrilled to hear other-wise.

That said I think it's the right choice in the long-term. It means that there is a graduated step between AIL and Pro12. I hope EE keeps a close eye on the AIL teams though, just in case there are any bolters in there.

galway advertiser wrote: <b>Connacht look to enter British and Irish Cup</b>
Galway Advertiser, September 01, 2011.

Connacht Rugby is gearing up to put forward a team in the British and Irish Cup next season.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood says it is the way forward for the province, which until now has been relying on the All Ireland League for players to make the step up to professional rugby.  However the province must fulfil a series of fixtures this year in order to satisfy the IRFU that it has the players able to join the other 24 teams from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland .

"We recognise the importance of the British and Irish Cup and that we need to have our players playing week in and week out.  We need to fill the void between the Rabo Direct and the All Ireland League and we see it through the competitiveness of the B and I," says Elwood.

  Connacht has already expanded its academy this season with several youngsters brought into the senior squad for the pre-season challenges before last Friday's game against Munster.  Connacht are now in talks with several Rabo Direct clubs which boast second teams,  particularly in England.

"Having your team identity is very important, and we will certainly promote and push indigenous players forward," says Elwood. "That is why we have had full integration with our senior squad during the pre-season.  We are trying to fast track them and see their capabilities."

  Elwood says it has been encouraging that players from Dublin had also joined the academy with both Mick Kearney and David Moore lining out during Connacht's pre-season friendlies.

The province's Professional Games Board is supporting the initiative, and Connacht CEO Gerry Kelly says the importance of A fixtures is now accepted.

"We are in talks with fellow  Rabo Direct League teams where they would have second teams, and we are looking at anything within a radius of Bristol so it is easy to fly in and out of. There are financial commitments, but the need to fulfil these fixtures outweighs  the financial commitment and the Professional Games Board has recognized that and taken it on board.

"The likelihood is that providing we fulfill our fixtures this year we will be in the cup next season."


A Connacht is not just for the Xmas Inter-Pros...
A Connacht is for Life

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  • Ga1wegian
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9 years 3 weeks ago #79

Agree that in the long run this is better for both Connacht and the Senior clubs as it will allow the huge amount of underage talent to get exposure to Senior rugby earlier - the centre partnership for Wegians tomorrow are aged 19 and 20 - this can only be good all round, even if it means short term pain as these young guys gather experience - but if it is good enough for SH teams it should be good enough for us.

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  • Greendragon
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9 years 3 weeks ago #168

Can only be a good thing for Connacht more players exposed at a higher level more players getting exposure in the Local leagues.

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  • Barney key
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9 years 3 weeks ago #169

The branch should be taking the long term approach and this move seems right. Has there  ever been as many kids playing rugby in the West as now. The B&I cup will help prepare players for the step up to full connacht representation and hopefully more and more home grown youngsters will eventually pull on the green. Great start against Treviso!!!!!

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9 years 3 weeks ago #176

Absolutely essential for local players if they are to make the step up, otherwise we will continue to draw primarily from the other provinces where they have access to this experience... 

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9 years 3 weeks ago #179

I agree with everything that's been said.  Great move on this.

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  • Diom
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9 years 3 weeks ago #180

I agree that it is important for Connacht to be able to offer this experience level to it's academy and fringe players. At the same time do we have the player availability for it? Once we plunder the clubs they might get a bit upset if they cannot replace players involved with those of similar quality.

It'll be interesting to see how well it works out. Thumbs up for the idea in general though!


A Connacht is not just for the Xmas Inter-Pros...
A Connacht is for Life

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  • ummm,
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9 years 3 weeks ago #190

I know clubs are the grassroots of rugby and it would be impossible for rugby in Ireland to exist without them, but we can't tip toe around them. The goal for players in the clubs should be to play for their province, surely? 'A' games give them the chance to play at the next level and could kick-start a few careers.

We don't want the tail wagging the dog.


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  • Greendragon
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9 years 3 weeks ago #195

The Rugby journey is always the same wherever you play it doesn't matter which Country, first step your club,then your next representative team so on to your Province or next level if it's proffesional clubs. And then your National team, the clubs must understand this principal. It must be every Rugby players dream to play for their country, it's not going to happen if the path through the different levels is not followed. If it was the case the choice will not be with with the player !!! but  the club he plays for.
The B.I Cup is a great standard that all our Provinces must participate in if we are to improve our Irish Qualified player base.

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9 years 3 weeks ago #202

This is a big deal. Getting more fringe players match time will really help them develop.

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  • Breifne
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9 years 3 weeks ago #203

I know clubs are the grassroots of rugby and it would be impossible for rugby in Ireland to exist without them, but we can't tip toe around them. The goal for players in the clubs should be to play for their province, surely? 'A' games give them the chance to play at the next level and could kick-start a few careers.

We don't want the tail wagging the dog.


Very well said.

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