10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Namely, to increase the number of indigenous players coming through the provincial player pathway with the skill set and support system to achieve the highest accolades in world rugby.
Our vision is simple. We want to create the best elite pathway programme in the country to ensure young Connacht players are given every opportunity to develop into the most talented in Europe, represent Ireland and fulfill their professional rugby ambitions whilst living and playing in Connacht.
The innovative crowd-funding platform has been developed to provide a mechanism for all fans to play their part in accelerating our plans and helping us realise our vision.
What is our vision?
For Connacht Rugby
* to produce the best rugby players in the world and keep them in Connacht
* to develop more players for the Ireland senior team
* to produce British & Irish Lions
* a Connacht player to lift the Rugby World Cup wearing the famous green shirt
- By continuing to grow, develop and nurture Connacht Rugby's talent with exceptional support and talent development structures
- Through the continued growth of traditional and non-traditional revenue streams
- By harnessing the collective goodwill and support of Connacht and Ireland fans across the globe to accelerate investment in what is already a high performing programme
Connacht's head of commercial and marketing Alex Saul explained: "Connacht Rugby, in recent times, has seen a throughput of talent from our Academy that is exceptional when measured against the level of investment.
"This is epitomised in the emergence of Robbie (Henshaw), Kieran (Marmion), Denis (Buckley) and Eoin (McKeon) this year.
"We felt that now is the right time to apply new methods to raising funds to direct towards the elite player pathway in Connacht.
"This is because we believe the future of Connacht Rugby lies with the young indigenous talent across the province."
He added: "Crowd-funding is having a huge impact in the USA and Europe and changing the face of investment.
"People that are passionate in an area or motivated to see projects come to life - without necessarily receiving any equity or control - are financing projects worldwide.
"We pride ourselves in thinking outside the box and we are looking at every opportunity to raise funds. All of which are re-invested into the game in the province.
"'Grassroots to Green Shirts' is about the collective body of fans and supporters, including some 41,000 online followers. We are giving our fans and people who are passionate about Connacht Rugby the opportunity to create something really memorable.
"It enables us to reach out to people based further afield or overseas who might not be able to attend a fixture, or buy a shirt, but take pride in our success. They can now become part of our plans and part of that continued success."
To find out more about the programme, and to see the 'Grassroots to Green Shirts' animation please click here.
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