CONNACHT GEAR UP FOR WASPS MATCH | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Jul  16   2018


New Connacht head coach Andy Friend will be sticking in the main to the gameplan that served Connacht so well up to last season’s disappointing PRO14 results. Recently appointed on a three-year contract, the 49 year old has retained the bulk of the backroom team at The Sportsground. Both he and the players are excited about the challenges ahead beginning with the visit of English Premiership giants Wasps to the Athlone venue on Saturday, August 18th.


Friend has extensive coaching experience at both club and international level. He was assistant coach at New South Wales Waratahs before taking up a similar position with the Brumbies. He then gained experience of Northern Hemisphere rugby when becoming head coach at Harlequins before moving back to Australia to take up a similar position at the Brumbies. He coached the Australia team that reached the U-21 World Cup final in 2005 before coaching the Australian Sevens squad. He has also coached in Japan.


Friend will encourage his players to “express themselves” and “play an attractive brand of rugby”. Connacht has made some exciting signings ahead of the new season’s kick off. Ireland capped back five forward Robin Copeland joins from Munster with hooker Jonny Murphy switching from Ulster. Winger Sevu Reece, who was the youngest player on the Provincial Barbarians squad that played the British & Irish Lions last summer, joins from Waikato. Two other exciting acquisitions will bolster the westerners pack. Backrower Colby Fainga’a has been signed from the Melbourne Reds while young lock Joe Maksymiw comes from Leicester Tigers. Despite his surname, the latter is Irish qualified!


There are quite a number of players at Connacht who have also worn Buccs colours, especially Jack Carty, Tiernan O’Halloran, David Heffernan and Shane Delahunt as well as Eoin McKeon and Denis Buckley.It seems there will be huge competition for places in the Connacht pack when you also factor in internationals Ultan Dillane, Finlay Bealham and Quinn Roux as well as Tom McCartney, Sean O’Brien, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler and Gavin Thornbury. There is immense potential too in a backline that can boast internationals Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Matt Healy, with Tom Farrell, Niyi Adeolokun, Darragh Leader and Craig Ronaldson among those vying for starting berths.


There is quality, ability, potential and experience aplenty in the Connacht squad so their opening joust against an international backboned Wasps squad should provide an entertaining and competitive affair at Dubarry Park next month. Book your tickets now!


Connacht v Wasps tickets now on sale


Tickets for the season opening Connacht v Wasps match, which takes place at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday, August 18th, are keenly priced from only a fiver as follows:- Stand €15; Adult/Ground €10; Junior €5; Family (admits 2 adults + 2 juniors to Ground) €20. The discounted price for Family tickets looks really good value. Tickets are NOT on sale at Buccaneers and can only be purchased through WWW.CONNACHTRUGBY.IE/TICKETS


Buccaneers are hosting a pre-match function in The Bounty for this game at which you can enjoy 3-course lunch with wine and complimentary Stand ticket. There will also be a limited number of places at the post-match function there which will also be attended by both teams. Contact our Administrator Geraldine at 0861732711 to book.




BUCCANEERS commence training this week for the forthcoming All-Ireland and Connacht Leagues. Training gets under way under the club’s new head coach on Tuesday 17TH and will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. nightly. All players from the Senior, Seconds and U-20’s squads should be ready to go in good time on the paddock each evening. New players always welcome too.




With Ballina promoted to the All-Ireland League this season, there are now five Connacht clubs participating in the AIL. This means an extra round of fixtures in the Connacht League and indeed Buccs opening game is away to the Mayo club.

Buccaneers matches are as follows:- Ballina (A) August 25th; Sligo (H) September 1st; Galwegians (H) September 8th; and Corinthians (A) September 15th. Interestingly, the winners of the league will automatically qualify for the Connacht Senior Cup final with the second and third placed teams competing in the Cup semi-final.