18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
The signing is the second in a series of major moves by the club following on from the appointment of Richard Moriarty as full time Director of Rugby. Swansea are due to move into a new purpose built stadium in the city in 2003 and they want to accompany that transfer with one of the most powerful, exciting playing structures not just in Wales but Europe.
Commenting, on their official website, Swansea board member Roger Blyth said today: "John's signing for us sends a strong message to our supporters as to where we wish to go in the next few years. He is one of the world's outstanding coaches and we are absolutely delighted to have signed him. We are sure he will strengthen us at all levels of the game, not just regarding 1st XV rugby but right down to the junior levels."
Connolly, who will complete his contract with Stade Francais next June, said today: "I am excited about this new challenge for next season. The tradition of the club and their achievements over the years are fairly well documented including their win over Australia in 1992.
"They are a club that has really made up its mind to go forward. As the new stadium approaches, it should be a great time for Swansea with all the challenges ahead. But I would remind everyone that until next June, my first priority remains in Paris with Stade Francais to whom I will remain 100% committed."
Connolly has been coaching since 1983 and has enjoyed immense success wherever he has been in his career. His work as the Queensland Under 19 and 21 coach helped develop the careers of such outstanding Wallabies as Tim Horan, Jason Little, John Eales and David Wilson. During his 12 years as Queensland senior coach, the Australian state beat every one of the current European Six Nations countries and they also won the Super 10s in 1994 and 1995. He was an Australian selector when the Wallabies won the 1991 World Cup in England.
He helped Stade Francais win the French Championship title within weeks of his arrival in Paris and he hopes to emulate that feat before completing his contract with the French club next June.