Elwood: I need a break

Eric Elwood’s all-consuming passion for Connacht and rugby became a huge factor in his decision to step down as head coach at the end of the season.

Elwood: I need a break

The 43-year-old admitted he put too much pressure on himself and did not have a life outside the game. However he is not ruling out a return to rugby in the future.

“I love what I do, this is my team, but there are other things I need to focus on,” Elwood said last evening when officially announcing his departure.

“I have a young family now and I do not want their lives to pass me by.

“Anyone who knows me, my passion has always been is rugby, and more so it’s been Connacht Rugby, but there are other things that are important in my life. I have my wife and three children, and I have given a lot to Connacht.”

Elwood has been the face of Connacht Rugby for 25 years — 17 years as a player, five as assistant to Michael Bradley, and three as head coach, but he also blames himself for not taking enough down time.

“In my case, being from Connacht and living in Galway, it was a 24/7 job. So win or lose, it was always well done or hard luck at the shops or Mass.

“I’m to blame as much for that. I didn’t do it half-arsed. I was fully committed, seven days a week. It was part of my make-up. I live and breathe it 24/7, everywhere I go, everyone knows me. It’s rugby, rugby rugby.

“I put too much pressure on myself. I learned a lot about myself. I have to be able to take down time and take half days here and there. Do stuff with the kids. So it’s a learning curve for me.”

Elwood’s plans to step aside took root over the summer when he discussed it with friends and family, but he was forced into making a decision when discussing his contract renewal with chief executive Tom Sears.

“I felt my honesty and integrity required me to tell him. Once Tom [Sears] knew, there was no point in dilly dallying.

“The more conversations I had with my friends, the more I saw that they were understanding why I was doing it and they didn’t try talking me out of it because they know me as the person and the rugby coach. Then I knew I was making the right decision. And that’s ultimately where I’ve come to. I know it’s right. It feels right in my heart, It feels right in my head and it feels right in my gut, and that’s not three bad places to feel it’s okay. So I know I’m doing the right thing.”

However Elwood is not ruling out a return to rugby at some stage in the future, and Sears has “left the door open” for a return.

“It’s a break from rugby I am looking for. I will never say never, I would be a foolish man at my age to say that’s the end of me in pro sport or rugby, but at the moment it’s not what I’m thinking about.”

Elwood has also stated he is prepared to leave the job earlier than the season’s end if required.

“I’m going to give it 100% until the end of the year. I’ve also expressed to the Professional Game Board (PGB) and to Connacht that I’m not bigger than the brand and I understand it. I will bow to whatever they want to do and if they feel they’ve got the person they want and he’s ready, that’s important, I want to make sure that they can get the person they want and if that’s early, that’s fine.

“I think that’s really important to me because I want to leave Connacht in a good place, I want to leave a legacy behind me so that when I am in the Clan Terrace next year I can say ‘look I played my part and it’s great to see them push on’. That’s important to me.”

Elwood’s immediate plans are to spend time in Connemara before finding a job.

“Hopefully this door is going to close and hopefully another one will open, so I look forward to that. I could go into something completely different that my tickle my fancy, but time will tell. I have no idea to be honest.”

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