The fates often conspire to challenge us and confuse us. When the three sister from Greek legend, (that represent the fates), attended the birth of professional Irish rugby in Connacht you would wonder what they had in mind? One sister spins the thread the other allots the fate and the other makes it unturnable. Well Connacht seem to have unravelled the thread and turned it around as only they can do in this wild western province. After all this is the place of other famous fighters who made their own luck such as Queen Maeve and the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley. In Connacht people dictate their own fate and Connacht Rugby, proved this as they went on a spectacular rugby rampage in the Guinness Pro 12 championship this year. Defeating all comers and trouncing their old rivals Leinster in the final. They went on to win the Guinness Pro12 title in Murrayfield, Scotland proving you never can write off Connacht rugby.
Curious then back in 2003, the IRFU were all set to do just that, disband Connacht after the team hit financial difficulties and seemed to lose every three matches in four. The IRFU backed down but not out of love for the team or the west. It was primarily a device to prop up the other three provinces, that is using Connacht as a feeder province for the more successful Munster, Leinster and Ulster teams. But Connacht was having none of it, with steady resolve and a young strong team they decided to fight their way back. In 2006 they restored team belief by defeating Glasgow Warriors again in their first season in the Heineken Cup a heartening win against Toulon seems to have created a mystique about Connacht rugby as potential giant killers. Big teams were wary of Connacht, they were capable of unleashing a rugby rampage on the game and turning over the odd giant or two.
Up and under, the relentless rugby rampage of Connacht had not yet hit its peak in the mid noughties. It took time and patience for Connacht to reveal their great intention, that they were were not just there to make up the numbers, they intended to win. An able defeat of the multi million euro team Toulouse in 2013, shocked the rugby pundits and delivered a message to the european rugby elite, Connacht represent a clear and present danger do not underestimate them. This seems to have worked in the team’s favour as all comers give them their best game, and this has honed the Connacht from mere, also rans, to champions.
Todays captain John Muldoon started his professional career, during this turmoil in 2003 at Connacht Rugby, as did many of his team mates. They collectively learned through adversity, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes they flew the only way allowed them, upward. Helped by the inspired vision of the team’s coaches, led by Kiwi legend Pat Lam, and former Ireland international player and local Galway lad, Eric Elwood and Nigel Carolan (Academy manager) they have supported and seeded young talented players bringing us the champions we see today.
The good people of Connacht can thank this talented bunch for keeping the west’s honour intact, and causing the western rugby rampage that we have all enjoyed over the last few months, long may it last.