Uncharted waters and charter flights: Connacht weigh up pros and cons of Covid-19

Nigel Carolan outlines how players are constantly reminded of their responsibilities

Having escaped the harshest of new Covid-19 measures, Connacht were back at the Galway Sportsground on Tuesday preparing for a charter flight to Wales on Saturday.

Cardiff will host Andy Friend's team at the Dragons' home ground Rodney Parade, due to Cardiff Arms Park being used as a Covid testing station. And while no Connacht player has tested positive, backs coach Nigel Carolan says the province is doing everything it can to minimise the risks.

“It’s here, it’s alive and it’s something players are constantly reminded off. The players are reminded of their interactions with each other, even outside the Sportsground, like going for coffee – they can’t do that,” he said.

Carolan says that he, forwards coach Jimmy Duffy and defence coach Pete Wilkins have all missed training sessions as precautionary measures.

“Last week my daughter had a runny nose, so I was quarantined as well. I had to wait for 24 hours until she was clear before I could come in. It is life at the moment and we are trying to minimise all risks.”

All players have been warned of breaches in protocols outside the College Road venue as they must follow the same guidelines as everyone else.

“They are not exempt. There is a protocol in place that any breaches outside the Sportsground will have serious consequences individually or collectively. They will be up in front of HR if there are any breaches, and we hope that is in the forefront of their minds.”

While it is “strange times to live in”, Connacht are fortunate, says Carolan.

“We were tested today, as we are every week, and when we left the Sportsground yesterday, we were hoping we were coming back in today, but we also spoke that, depending if restrictions went ahead at the highest level, we may not.

"We had a bit of a a laugh at our two collective meetings yesterday when Tim Allnutt got in front of the group to tell them we are going on a charter at the weekend.

“Through Covid we find ourselves in a situation where we can cut a lot of travel time. It’s a short trip to Shannon, we have our own flight, so waiting around time is minimised. It’s a short trip over and 15 minutes to the hotel on the other side.

“Maybe it’s a privilege, but for us it is something new. The lads are really excited about it because they get to sleep in their own beds and they don’t have to hang around the whole day. So we don’t see it as challenge, but as an advantage.”