Connacht Rugby CEO Gerry Kelly announced that thanks to the extra funding received by the Government, the new stand being built at the Sportsground, would now be extended to almost the full length of the pitch.
The new Clan terrace was originally planed to be 72m long but will now be increased to 96m. The 72m section will be built in time for the first home game of the season against Scarlets. He thanked ministers Brian Walsh and Michael Ring for the injection of funds as due to complications with water pipes, telephone lines and ESB cables there would have been a shortfall in the IRFU funding. Almost 3000 season tickets have been purchased to date and Connacht are close to maximum capacity with a limited number of season tickets remaining.
Meanwhile, it was good news for Connacht fullback Gavin Duffy, who was selected as captain for the coming season. The Ballina native said he “was delighted and proud to represent his home province and that it was a huge honour”. Speaking about the upcoming match against Treviso, Gavin stated that while it would be a tough place to go to, they wanted a winning start and were targeting 4 points from this fixture.
Coach Eric Elwood agreed with his new captain, saying that Treviso last year had won 8 out their 11 home games, were very strong on set pieces, had lots of big ball carriers, and liked to maul. He said that Connacht would have to “play a good tactical kicking game, be good with their discipline, and match Treviso’s physicality”. The Connacht team are travelling to Italy on Thursday to help acclimatise to the heat.
On their preseason games Elwood was asked what he and his team had learned. “We were disappointed with the Exeter game, but, that with 15 new players we had to look at different combinations of players and different positions in order to allow the team to knit and gel. There was a huge improvement against Ireland and that against a full Saracens team the pace and intensity of our guys had improved. We want to bring this forward into the coming season”.