It was not so long ago that the thought of Connacht Rugby in a Pro 12 Final would be a laughable idea. Not in a condescending way, but in a question of how could they possibly improve to that level. Connacht Rugby have fought long and hard to get where they are today. Lack of funding, poor attendance figures and the fall out with the IRFU which divided Irish Rugby. You have to hand it to them they have come through all that has been thrown at them with style and grace. Pat Lam‘s positivity has been contagious it resonates throughout the team and has brought Connacht from the depths of hell to where they are today a Pro 12 final.
The Rise and Rise of Connacht Rugby
Saturday saw the Sportsground in Galway light up with a radiant green light. The atmosphere was magnetic truly enlightening. Munster fans agree it reminds them of when Munster where the underdogs of Europe. Connacht can learn a lot from the rise of Munster Rugby and dare it be suggested the demise too. Right now Connacht are that brand, that brand of Rugby everyone wants to buy into they are the IT team. Any advice that should be given to Connacht is savour this time enjoy this moment but keep one eye on next season. For a Province it does not just finish next week at the Final whistle in Murrayfield. One eye needs to be on next season. Connacht are set to lose seven players at the end of this season Aly Muldowney and A.J. McGinty are two of that seven. Seven players is a huge amount to lose for any squad and especially a side like Connacht Rugby that is still developing.
Alot of speculation has been mentioned about developing the Sportsgrounds. Yes it does need developing, no one can argue with that, but it is not an immediate priority. The rawness of the Sportsgrounds adds to the appeal of Connacht Rugby. Focusing on next week and next season is a priority. Invest in the team, buy in players who can keep the momentum going in Connacht. Facitities and Stadiums are all well and good, but the main thing now is keeping what Connacht have. As it has been proven in Munster Rugby there is not much good having an impressive ground when scorelines and results are not consistent. For now for Connacht they need to keep an eye on the prize and that prize is in Murrayfield.
May 28th will be the showdown of all showdowns in a Guinness Pro 12 final. Leinster vs Connacht a momentous achievement for Irish Rugby to have two Irish Teams in a final. Leinster got off to a rocky start, it has definitely been a rollercoaster season for them but it looks like it could end on a high if Saturday goes to plan. Credit where credit is due they have proven to be a force to reckoned with and have achieved great results. Looking ahead to next weekend, be prepared for a battle. A battle of pride from both sides.
Predicting a winner is tough. Connacht is the sentimental choice, but Leinster is the logical one. Most fans (outside of Leinster fans of course) would love to see a fairytale ending for Connacht Rugby. To the side that clinches this year’s Guinness Pro 12 Trophy they can be happy in the fact that they have added to a superb finale to this year’s Tournament. Let the battle of the Guinness Pro 12 title of 2016 commence.