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Connacht legend Eric Elwood succeeds Carolan as academy manager

The province’s former head coach will play a key developmental role.

CONNACHT HAVE CONFIRMED that Eric Elwood will take over from Nigel Carolan as the province’s academy manager next season.

Elwood is a former Connacht head coach and a legend of the province since his playing days, meaning his appointment will be well received.

John Muldoon celebrates with Eric Elwood Elwood celebrates last season's Pro12 success with John Muldoon. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Carolan is set to become part of new head coach Kieran Keane’s senior coaching staff after an impressive stint in charge of the academy.

Elwood, who has held the position of domestic rugby manager with Connacht over the last two years, is perfectly qualified to continue the fine work.

The 48-year-old played for the province for 17 years, earning more than 160 caps. The out-half also played for Ireland 35 times before moving into coaching.

He led the Ireland U20s to their 2007 Grand Slam success, before taking on the Connacht job in 2010. Despite the incremental progress during his time in charge, Elwood stepped away from the position in 2013, making way for Pat Lam.

Elwood has remained a key part of Connacht rugby ever since and will now have a major hand in guiding the province’s young talent into senior rugby.

“I’m delighted to be taking up the role of academy manager and look forward to building on the fantastic work that Nigel has carried out over the last number of years,” said Elwood.

“In my current role as domestic rugby manager, I have gained direct experience of working with players at the entry point from age-grade rugby to the academy.

Eric Elwood celebrates after the game Elwood was previously head coach of Connacht. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“As head coach, I had the benefit of working with players recently graduated from the academy system and who were taking their first steps as professional athletes. I believe that these experiences will provide me with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the demands at academy level.

“I’ve really enjoyed the past two years working with all the staff, clubs and schools in the club and community game and I look forward to seeing some of the young talent coming through to the academy.”

Connacht CEO Willie Ruane shared his delight at the appointment:

“Eric’s appointment as Connacht academy manager is fantastic news for our province and for Irish Rugby,” said Ruane. “He has done a great job over the past two years growing the game of rugby across the entire province from grassroots level.

“His passion for player development in Connacht and his huge knowledge of the game make him well-equipped to work with our young academy players and lead the excellent programme we have here at Connacht.”

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Murray Kinsella

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