This season we launched paid membership to the Connacht Clan with a fee of €10 for the year.

Why are we doing this?

The Connacht Clan has been in existence for four years and in that time we have built up an informal community of Connacht Rugby supporters through our events, website and social media. We watch games together in the Sportsground, the Dáil Bar and all over Europe, meeting supporters from other clubs along the way. We discuss all the latest rugby news on our forum, and on Facebook and twitter. We hold post match player interviews in the Clan Bar after every game and present player of the year awards and hall of fame honours to players past and present. We have our own merchandise, we sponsor players and we raise money for charity. Most of us have met dozens of people over the last few years through the Connacht Clan.

As it stands however we are still just a loose collection of Connacht supporters, with no real way to track who our members are. In order to progress we need to grow a membership base. The more members we have the more power we have when it comes to doing deals on your behalf, things as simple as getting sponsorship are dependent on size of the membership base. During the past season we opened negotiations with several parties in relation to sponsorship deals, competitions, etc. and the first thing they asked was how many members we had. Despite having over 1000 likes on our Facebook page, over 3000 twitter followers and an excellent and much used website and forum, the answer is that officially we have no members. Zero.

Lets be clear that this is not just a way to raise money, we expect that we will be able to give value above and beyond the membership fee back to the members who sign up.

So what will you get for your €10?

Initially the €10 will get you membership for the rest of this season 2014-2015 and next season 2015-2016. Each member will receive a Connacht Clan Supporters Club pin.

We will be producing exclusive members only merchandise which will only be available through our website at extremely reasonable prices. We are currently working with BLK to produce Connacht Clan Polo shirts. We will also have Connacht Clan beanies and fleeces and we will look to extend the range offered with members having an input into what items we provide.

We will provide discounted travel options to our members, beginning with the trip to Munster at the end of March. We have a fantastic members only deal for a return bus to Thomond Park including match ticket for €20. This returns the value of the sign up fee immediately, before the 2014-2015 season even begins! We would be looking to do something similar every year, and extending into other trips.

We will also hold members-only raffles and giveaways during the year and are already on the lookout to get some member only deals for other organisations and suppliers, including Connacht Rugby.

The whole idea is to give the members great value for their membership fee, attract new people to become involved and develop a solid membership base. It's important to emphasise that we will not be limiting access to the forum or any existing sections of the Connacht Clan website to members only. Nothing is being taken away from non members in that regard, we understand the importance of encouraging new people to come on board and will continue to do so.

So finally, how do you sign up?

There will be a new 'Join' menu item on the Connacht Clan website, www.connachtclan.com. Ensure you are logged in first in the normal way (we have added a sign-in box to the main page to make this easier) and then click the "Join the Clan" option on the left of the main menu.

Fill in all the required fields. Make sure you fill in your real name. Traditionally many people omitted their real name when registering as it used to be visible to anyone who viewed your profile page, but this is no longer the case, so only administrators can see your real name.

We also ask a few questions about where you are from and your age range. We may share some stats about our membership base with potential sponsors but we will of course never share your personal data.

Once your information is entered you will be redirected to Paypal to pay your €10 subscription. This will sign you up until Summer 2016. Once you have completed the sign-up, you may need to log out and back in again to show up as a registered user. If you can see the new "Shop" option on the menu, you are good to go.

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