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Swift Becomes Connacht’s Most-Capped Player

Swift Becomes Connacht’s Most-Capped Player

Michael Swift set a new appearance record for Connacht when he was introduced as a second half replacement in Saturday’s 26-21 Amlin Challenge Cup win over Worcester Warriors at Sixways Stadium.

Michael Swift equalled Eric Elwood’s 161 appearances against Cardiff a week earlier and on Saturday he became the most-capped player in Connacht history.

The versatile 32-year-old forward, now in his tenth season at the Sportsground, is the longest serving player in the squad.

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Swift looks set to build on his 162 appearances in the coming weeks during the busiest period of the season for Connacht, with games against Worcester, Munster and Leinster next in the offing.

Swift’s ten years with Connacht were celebrated last month with a black tie event held in his honour in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway. The well-attended event included a donation to the IRFU Charitable Trust.

‘Swifty’ was born in London to Irish parents, with his father from Wexford and his mother hailing from Dublin. He was capped by England at Under-16 and Under-18 levels and played for Richmond and Leeds Tykes before his former coach John Kingston brought him over to Galwegians.

In a recent interview with the Galway Independent, Swift spoke with pride of his association with Galwegians and Connacht Rugby. This season he is coaching the ‘Wegians Under-21 squad alongside his Connacht colleague Gavin Duffy.

“When I arrived over, Galwegians was my main club and you played occasionally for Connacht,” he said.

“The first day I came over, we had a meeting of about ten guys – and Eric (Elwood) was one of them – but we soon got our act together and started to compete.

“Now the infrastructure here at Connacht is on a par with anyone. We have a top of the range gym, astro turf training field, offices and the new stand – with another section in the pipeline.

“It has come a long way since the old stand and changing rooms. We are now the only province with all facilities on the one site.

“We played Montpellier earlier this season and beat them but their budget is over €;13 million, while we operate on a lot, lot less.

“To be able to compete against these teams is amazing and it underlines the great work that has been done by Michael Bradley and his team.”

Bradley, of course, is in his final season with the westerners and Swift is determined to play his part in giving him a send-off to remember as Connacht strive to qualify for the Heineken Cup for the first time in their history.

“Professionalism arrived under Michael’s leadership, we have developed into a team that can develop talent from a young age.

“Qualifying for the Heineken Cup would be a great send-off for him, and the Galway crowd deserves to see the top teams here.

“It was a shock to hear he is leaving but we all wish him the very best, but it will be a sad day when he leaves.”

Commenting on his own playing future, Swift added: “I suppose it is up to the management, how long I’ll be around.

“I never had any pace to loose, so I am as fast as ever and injuries have been kind! Hopefully, I’ll still be here to see the Heineken Cup when we get there.”