Recently retired Connacht captain and former Ireland international Gavin Duffy has been appointed to a new role with the province - senior development executive within the commercial & marketing department.
Gavin Duffy, who has a Commerce degree from NUI Galway and a BA in Strength & Conditioning from Setanta College, will take up the role in July following the birth of his second child
In the full-time position based at the Sportsground in Galway, Duffy will be charged with driving new business with local, regional and national enterprise as well as continually developing and enhancing relationships with key stakeholders domestically and abroad.
The appointment is a boost for the province and comes at a crucial period in the westerners' development, with the recent confirmation of increased funding from the IRFU and the appointment of incoming CEO Willie Ruane.
Commenting on the appointment, Connacht's head of commercial & marketing Alex Saul said: "It is fantastic news for Connacht Rugby and the commercial team is greatly strengthened by this exciting addition.
"Gavin is one of Connacht's greatest ambassadors and has always demonstrated he has the skills and self-awareness to lead from the front. He will bring great insight and energy to the role as well as his outstanding leadership qualities from his playing career.
"As the Connacht Rugby brand continues to grow, there was appetite to bring someone with Gavin's qualities into the team to help us execute a business development strategy in line with the province's vision and values.
"Gavin demonstrated to us he had the drive and ambition to be a part of what we are doing here and I can't think of anyone better to help us shape our off-field efforts going forward.
"His deep knowledge of the sport and the industry combined with his commerce studies, as well as his tremendous passion for the province leave us in no doubt that he will make this role a success."
Duffy added: "Working full-time with the province I've been associated for so much of my life is ultimately the 'dream job'. There were other offers out there but I had to weigh up my options taking into account my family and where we wanted to be. But it wasn't a difficult decision when it came to taking this opportunity.
"Connacht is where I'm from and I've often spoke about the pride I felt playing for my home province. It's the same now that I've finished playing. I want to be a part of Connacht's future and to help it go from strength to strength.
"Being a professional player for so many years and in a team that has seen massive change in recent times, I have seen how crucial the off-field work is to the whole organisation.
"Having studied Commerce, I've always taken an interest in the commercial side of things and enjoyed getting to know our sponsors and stakeholders who do so much in terms of helping the province to grow.
"It's definitely going to be a new challenge for me moving into the 'real' working world but I'm excited by it. I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into the role and being a part of great success for the province."
The former full-back was involved in professional rugby for 13 years which included a three-year spell at English club Harlequins before he returned to his native Connacht where he played a total of 174 times in the back-three.
As captain, Duffy led Connacht in their first ever Heineken Cup campaign in the 2011/12 season and continued as skipper the following year.
Having played for Ireland at Schools, Under-21, Sevens and 'A' levels, the Ballina native earned the first of his 10 Irish caps against South Africa in 2004 and played against Argentina in the 2007 World Cup.
A former Mayo minor footballer who played in the 1999 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final against Down, the 32-year-old has recently been called up to train with the Mayo senior football panel.
We spoke to Leinster and Ireland winger Dave Kearney after the Captain's Run at Thomond Park as he prepares to take on some familiar faces and some well-capped stars when the Ireland XV play the Barbarians.
Leinster prop Tadhg Furlong is one of two uncapped players in the Ireland XV starting team to play the Barbarians. We caught up with the young prop at Thomond Park as he prepares to pull on the green jersey.
Jamie Heaslip will captain the Ireland XV against the Barbarians at Thomond Park on Thursday. He spoke to Irish Rugby TV about facing the star-studded visitors and the battle he is relishing with his Leinster colleague Shane Jennings, who captains the Baa Baas.
Ireland Under-20 head coach Nigel Carolan has likened the World Rugby Under-20 Championship to 'a mini Six Nations in three weeks'. His side take on Argentina in their tournament opener in Parma next Tuesday.
Ireland Under-20 backs Nick McCarthy and Garry Ringrose and Feargal O'Rourke from team sponsors PwC spoke to Irish Rugby TV as the squad prepare for the World Rugby U-20 Championship which starts next week in Italy.
We caught up with Sean O'Brien at the Canterbury Ireland training kit launch where he spoke about next week's Barbarians game, the build-up to the Rugby World Cup and 'moving forward' with Leinster next season.
We caught up with Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald at the launch of the new Canterbury Ireland training kit. He spoke about his recovery from shoulder surgery and his aim to be fit for the Guinness Summer Series games in August.
Ireland Men's Sevens squad member Matthew D'Arcy is gearing up for a 'long and tough season' of Sevens rugby this summer. "It's very exciting (to be involved), there's a huge opportunity for us all," he said.
IRFU Director of Sevens and head coach Anthony Eddy talks about the Ireland Men's Sevens squad's upcoming tournaments and ambitions, while squad members Cian Aherne and Tom Daly tell us about their enthusiasm to play Sevens for Ireland.
IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora speaks about the newly-announced Ireland Men's Sevens squad and structures, and we also hear from squad member Matthew D'Arcy on the training camps and how he got involved.
IRFU Women's Rugby Ambassador Fiona Coghlan played in three Rugby World Cups and captained Ireland to Grand Slam glory. She believes the 2017 Women's World Cup in Ireland will be a 'hugely successful and exciting' tournament.