Connacht hoping win over Brive in return leg will lead to pick up in league form

Connacht's Eoin McKeon who has returned to full fitness ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup clash against Brive at the Sportsground.
Connacht's Eoin McKeon who has returned to full fitness ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup clash against Brive at the Sportsground.

AS the midpoint of the rugby season approaches, let’s briefly take stock of where Connacht Rugby are at.

Results have been below par. No question. Connacht have played 13 games and won six. Exactly half of the wins were in Europe, where they enjoy a 100% record, albeit in the second-tier competition, the Challenge Cup, including last weekend’s try-fest away to Brive. That leaves a win-rate of just 30% in the PRO14 league. It looks grim enough.

“The view from the outside is probably a little bit different than the view from the inside. That’s important,” insisted backs coach, Nigel Carolan.

“We’re disappointed with how we started both blocks (of games). It’s difficult to put our finger on the start of the second block, having finished the first block so well. We just lacked a little bit of a spark, which KK (head coach, Kieran Keane) summed up as a bit of a headscratcher because we had prepared really well.

“The most important thing for Connacht Rugby is consistency. I think when you can go out and beat the Munsters of this world, and the Cheetahs and then you go and drop your standards, that’s just been frustrating. We know that on the inside; we know that on our team reviews; we know that from our trainings. We strive to keep the highest standard.”

It was always going to take time for things to settle following regime change. It’s just that Keane’s new philosophy has taken longer than hoped to bear fruit. The players haven’t been spooked by it, though, even if supporters and those on the ‘outside’ are restless.

“Because there’s been a new approach to how we play the game, it takes time to bed in and that’s why within the walls here, nobody here was panicking, no one here was bad-mouthing what we were doing,” said Carolan.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.