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Connacht secure European Cup spot

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 May 2011

Eric Elwood believes Connacht’s qualification to the European Cup for the first time is a ‘great day’ for the club.

Connacht have always featured in the European Challenge Cup, but Leinster’s victory in the Heineken Cup on Saturday in Cardiff granted Ireland an additional place in the tournament allowing Connacht the opportunity to step up for the first time.

Under Elwood the Galway based side have developed their attacking style and impressed in the Magners League this season and the former Ireland fly-half is delighted that his side will be facing Europe’s elite next season.

"There is a process in place and that process has taken us to the Heineken Cup for the first time and that makes it a great day for Connacht rugby,” he told the Irish Times.

"It will present challenges but these are the challenges we have craved for many years. We know it won't be easy but we have assembled a good squad and it is up to us all to step up to the mark. We will need to deal with those challenges on and off the field but these are great problems to have. I'm sure Scarlets were delighted a year ago when they reached the Heineken Cup when Cardiff won the Amlin, and we are the same."

Connacht chief executive officer Gerry Kelly added "It would be our intention to attract a big name or a couple of big names if not this year then next year. We are not easy to beat in the Sportsground."

"I would expect us to be competitive. You can find yourself in a tough pool in the Amlin, teams such as Harlequins, Wasps, Stade Français. Those are very good sides. I would like to think that knowing how competitive we are we would not be easy to beat in the Heineken Cup in Galway."