Connacht Rugby have confirmed that coach Eric Elwood will step down as coach of the province at the end of the season.
Rumours gathered paced yesterday that Elwood will be stepping down for family reasons once the season ends and the former Connacht and Ireland out-half today confirmed his departure but said it was not for off the field reason, but that he felt it was the best time to move on.
“I have come to this decision after thinking long and hard about what is best for me and also what is best for Connacht. I have given a big part of my life to Connacht Rugby and I feel that it is time for me to have a change and time for the province to have a change as well.
“I want to stress that this has nothing to do with any on field issues or performances or anything off the field.
“Connacht has progressed enormously in the last couple of years and I can only see that continuing but for me personally the time is right to step aside at the end of this season and let someone else take things on.
“It is a decision that I have not made lightly and it’s an emotional one but again I would like to make it very clear that it is my decision and no-one else’s. I have not been under any pressure to step down and I have always received great support from the IRFU, the Professional Game Board and everyone involved with Connacht.”
Elwood has been head coach at Connacht for the last three years after five years as assistant to Michael Bradley, and made 168 appearances for the province during his playing career.
Chief Executive Tom Sears noted Elwood’s special relationship with the province, saying, “Eric Elwood is synonymous with Connacht Rugby and he will leave a big void. His decision has come as a surprise but it is one we respect and understand.
“Eric will remain in charge for the rest of the season and we will begin a recruitment process to find someone who can build on the foundations he has put in place and take us to the next level.”
Elwood took Connacht to their first Heineken Cup last season, and said yesterday at the launch of this year’s competition that he was looking forward to seeing the club’s progression this year.
Connacht will face Ulster in Ravenhill this Friday.