Connacht Rugby have announced that Ray Ofisa and Henry Fa’afili will leave the club at the end of the season.
31 year old Ofisa has been an integral part of the Connacht set-up since he joined in 2007 from North Otago in New Zealand. An aggressive, dynamic ball-carrier Ray is known throughout the RaboDirect PRO12 as one of the hardest hitting tacklers in the game and though not the biggest member of the back-row at 1.84m and 95kg he regularly punches well above his weight.
A fans favourite and part of the fabric that has moulded the current Connacht team Ray earned his 100th cap for Connacht against Treviso earlier this season. He has been part of some of the biggest matches in the clubs history including the Heineken Cup match against Toulouse and South Africa’s visit in 2007. He was unfortunate to miss Connacht’s clash against his native Samoa when they arrived in the Sportsground in 2010 and he will be fondly remembered by fans as one of the most unassuming gentlemen off the field and one of the clubs greatest competitors on it.
Speaking about Ray’s departure Head Coach Eric Elwood said: “I’d like to pay tribute to the hard work, commitment and respect that Ray has shown throughout his six years here at Connacht. He is one of the quietest men in the squad but once he crosses the whitewash he can turn a match in a flash with a moment of brilliance. In his time here he has really bought into the ethos of everything we are about and I know Ray considers Connacht a family away from home. It’s a credit to the man and his strength of character that even now he is finishing the season on a high and on behalf of myself, the management, the players and all our supporters I would like to wish Ray every success for the future.”
Meanwhile former Biarittz and Leeds centre Fa’afili will also leave Connacht after not being offered a contract for next season. The 31 year old former Rugby League star only joined the Irish province this season.
In addition to Ray’s departure the following four players have not been offered contracts for the 2012/13 season: Dermot Murphy, Dylan Rogers, Jamie Stephens, Brian Tuohy.
Team Manager Tim Allnutt said: “Following discussions with Head Coach Eric Elwood and his coaching team it was decided that these players would not be offered contracts for next season. On behalf of all at Connacht Rugby I would like to wish them all the very best of luck in their future careers and thank them for their professionalism and commitment whilst they were at the club.”