Lam’s arrival the beginning of the end for Elwood

New coach due in Galway as squad returns from weekend washout in Treviso

Players attempt to run on the pitch before the match was called off in Treviso last night. Photograph: Elena Barbini/Inpho

Players attempt to run on the pitch before the match was called off in Treviso last night. Photograph: Elena Barbini/Inpho

Sun, Mar 31, 2013, 16:14

Incoming Connacht head coach Pat Lam arrives in Galway on Tuesday after incumbent Eric Elwood's arrivederci to Italy was postponed last night due to a waterlogged Treviso pitch.

Lam, who has been in England with his family for the past week, had always planned to arrive early in the province to take in Connacht's final three fixtures this season. Now he can also pencil in a rescheduled league game with Benetton Treviso after Scottish referee Andrew McMenemy was forced to call off Saturday evening's RaboDirect Pro 12 game when the Stadio Monigo pitch was deemed unplayable after incessant rain.

Both teams knew 90 minutes before kick off that a postponement was possible, but McMenemy made the decision during the team warm-up although an official announcement was made two minutes after the scheduled 8pm start.

Having controversially been forced to play Biarritz in December's Heineken Cup fixture in worse conditions, Elwood said it was the right decision.

"We were ready to go, but we respect the referee's decision," said Elwood. "And based on the experience of Biarritz, it is probably the wise thing because the game could have turned into a farce and you cannot play rugby in those conditions."

With no improvement in the weather forecast yesterday and no alternative venue, it was agreed to reschedule the fixture on a weekend when the Pro12 will be on a break because of European action. Given that Connacht would need to turn around within a week to play next weekend, it is now likely to take place the weekend of the Heineken Cup semi-finals, beginning on April 26th. By coincidence it is also the same weekend Connacht are expected to officially farewell Elwood at the province's annual awards evening.

Connacht captain Gavin Duffy said the team was conscious Elwood's time with the province was coming to an end.

"I have been involved with Eric for a long number of years, and one of the reasons I was passionate about playing for Galwegians and Connacht, although I am from Ballina, was because of Eric.

"We knew from last weekend how big this game was for us. Personally I am very keen to help Eric and ourselves achieve our goals this year. Since he has taken over as head coach, there has been a year-on-year improvement, so it would be nice way to let him know how much we are going to miss him."