Connacht Rugby has confirmed the shock news that forwards coach Jimmy Duffy will be leaving the province at the end of the season along with Nigel Carolan who’s departure was announced last week.
In a statement, Jimmy Duffy, who was instrumental in Connacht’s Pro12 winning campaign of 2015/2016 said: “This has been a tough decision for me and my family, but I feel it’s the right one as I look to progress my coaching career. Connacht Rugby has been a major part of my life stretching over 25 years, so it was never going to be easy when the day comes to move on. I feel now is the time for me to stretch myself and further my development as a coach.”
Departing attack coach Nigel Carolan said this week that building the province’s academy has been the highlight of his twenty-six years at the province.
“Definitely the academy. I built the academy from the ground up and seeing the likes of Jack Carty and Robbie Henshaw coming though that and going on to play for Ireland. That’s what grass roots to green shirts is all about.”
“When you see guys go on to represent their country you couldn’t be any prouder. It should instil belief that what we are doing here is really powerful and it does give that opportunity. And those guys are on a par with any player in the country when they’re in such a good environment,” said Carolan.
Carolan and Duffy have taken the decision to leave Connacht having both spent their entire careers to date with the western province first as a player before moving into coaching.
There has been no announcement yet as to who will replace these two senior members of Andy Friend’s coaching setup.
Friend said: “Nigel leaves a very strong legacy here, but for me it’s not goodbye its, ‘we’ll see ya later’ because we know he’ll be back. You know he’s going to be back.”
“It’s a very brave decision for not only Nige but for Siobhan and his family too because he’s walking into the unknown now. But that’s pro coaching. If you want to be a pro coach you’ve got to be brave enough to make those calls.”
Flanker Sean O’Brien told Galway Pulse that the double departure with be a big change for the club.
“I’ve been with Nige and Jimmy since I was 15 or 16. They’ve been there every step of the way. I owe them both my career in rugby so I’ll be eternally grateful to them. We’re looking forward to building on their foundations with the new coaching team Andy, Tim and Willie assemble,” he said.
On the pitch Connacht travel to play Leicester in the European Challenge cup at Welford road on Saturday night. They’ll be hoping to put aside an abysmal record in England and book a home semi-final with a win over the premiership team.
by Richard Hartmann