Family first as Elwood hands off Connacht position
NEWS:ULTIMATELY, AS was suspected, the passion that drove him threatened to consume him and thus obliged him to walk away from the province he has served unstintingly for a quarter of a century. Eric Elwood will assuredly end his three-year tenure as Connacht coach with his held high at the end of this season but from that point on, with evident relief, his family will come first for a change.
Having informed the Connacht CEO of his decision two weeks ago, and the Connacht squad last Monday, yesterday Elwood confirmed his decision at a press conference in the G Hotel and spoke of the weight off his shoulders, of not wanting to miss out on his children (Laura, 14, Rachel, 8, and Callum 6) and spending some time on the family mobile home in Connemara, something he probably neglected to do over the summer.
“It’s a tough job at the best of times for the obvious reasons. In my case, being from Connacht and living in Galway, it was a 24/7 job. So win or lose, it was always well done or hard luck at the shops or mass. Rugby, rugby, rugby.
“I’m to blame as much for that. I didn’t do it half-arsed. It was fully committed, seven days a week. It was part of my make-up. It’s not like a coach from overseas doing the maximum, that’s it. I live and breathe it 24/7, everywhere I go, everyone knows me. It’s rugby, rugby, rugby. There’s an element of that.”
Even if he was inclined to give too much in his first two seasons as coach, primarily over those summer months planning for this season, it’s still something of a shame he won’t giving any more after this season for, unquestionably, nobody will care more, and you can’t help but wonder if he and others couldn’t have done more to ensure he took some days off and some holiday time away from the game over the summer.
“It’s not delegation. I do work with good people who do their jobs well,” he maintained, repeating how even away from the Sportsground there was still no escape from the game and he was not one to ignore anybody. But he did concede: “I put too much pressure on myself. I have to learn. I learned a lot about myself. I have to be able to take down time and take half days here and there. Do stuff with the kids. So it’s a learning curve for me.”
He admitted he had “been thinking about it for a while” and the more he confided in friends, the more he realised he was making the right decision. “It feels right in my heart, It feels right in my head and it feels right in my gut, and that’s not three bad places to feel it’s okay. So I know I’m doing the right thing.”
As for the curiously early timing, Elwood explained that when Sears began mentioning recruitment for next season, he felt compelled to tell his CEO the truth.