James Cannon says weather made Munster match ‘a little bit tough’

Connacht’s lock admits team must begin to win away from home, starting with Ospreys

James Cannon: the ex-Northampton and Wasps lock follows a tradition of English locks pitching up at Connacht. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

James Cannon: the ex-Northampton and Wasps lock follows a tradition of English locks pitching up at Connacht. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

 

Wild, wild days in the west are the stuff of Connacht folklore, but until a player has experienced them he probably can’t quite believe it.

James Cannon, Connacht’s 28-year-old lock for last Saturday’s rendezvous with Munster, had been forewarned but now the ex-Northampton and Wasps lock truly knows. “The boys were telling me that that’s the usual Galway weather at this time of year, and to be honest we’d been pretty lucky so far. That’s pretty much the only time that I’ve seen those conditions since I’ve been here, but it made things a little bit tough,” he says, with an ironic chuckle.

Time was when Connacht would have embraced the slanting rain and wind whipping in off the Atlantic, but not any more, and the game ultimately hinged on successive mauls at either end of the pitch with the scores tied at 6-all.

"It was pretty heart-breaking really,” admits Cannon. “We worked pretty hard to get up into their 22, then turned the ball over and within five seconds were five yards from their own line. Hopefully we’ll learn from that and it won’t happen again.”

Cannon, who joined on a one-year deal in September, follows a tradition of English locks pitching up at Connacht in Michael Swift and Mike McCarthy. Having fallen down the pecking order after six seasons at Wasps, the prospect of playing more regular rugby for the Guinness Pro12 champions appealed.

Cannon is originally from Kettering. His dad, Vince, played 438 times for Northampton and is in the club’s Hall of Fame. “Much the same as anyone’s father, he was a big influence on my career. We’re quite a tight family, and he’s been over a couple of times to Galway. He has a wealth of knowledge of the old- school arts of rugby, so it’s quite interesting to speak with him and keep his views in mind.”

Cannon also spent three years at Franklin’s Gardens, coming through their academy before joining Wasps in 2010, where he enjoyed more than six at times tumultuous years.

Cannon loves the “real rugby club feel to match days” at the Sportsground, and specifically the proximity of the fans to the team, but accepts they need to start winning away from home (something they haven’t done since March), starting this Saturday against the Ospreys.

“It’s something that’s been talked about, and is something as a group of players we’re looking to put right. There’s no time like the present. We’re trying to be a resilient team, and some things aren’t going to go your way, especially away from home, but it’s up to the 15 blokes on the field to put things right and deliver,” he said.

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