Pat Lam committed to Bristol regardless of Premiership status

Pat Lam will not even join Bristol as head coach until June but has already committed his future to the Aviva Premiership relegation favourites.

Former Samoa flanker Lam led Connacht to the 2016 Guinness PRO12 title but will now swap Galway for England’s west country at the end of the season.

Bristol confirmed the 48-year-old’s appointment on Monday, to replace former England and Scotland boss Andy Robinson, who was sacked last month after three years at the helm.

The Ashton Gate club have lost all 10 Premiership matches this term and are likely to drop back to the Championship for next season - but Lam has already insisted he remains unfazed by that prospect.

"I’m committed to Bristol irrespective as to what happens in the short-term - everything is in place for the club to be a force in the future and I’m honoured to be invited to join the journey," said Lam.

"I’m excited about the opportunity to coach and lead Bristol Rugby - a proud club with history, tradition and a bright future ahead.

"What appeals to me most after speaking to (owner) Steve Lansdown and (chairman) Chris Booy is their passion, vision and long term commitment to inspire fellow Bristolians worldwide through rugby success on and off the field.

"As with my decision to help Connacht Rugby four years ago, my coaching philosophy is very much aligned to assisting them in making Bristol Rugby a club where the Bristol community can be inspired and Bristol players have a genuine pathway to represent England by the quality of our rugby programme.

"This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my life as Connacht and Galway is such a special place for myself and my family."

Former England and Bath coach Robinson joined Bristol in 2013 with the express brief to drive the club back into the Premiership.

Robinson finally achieved that aim in the summer and even signed a new three-year deal in August, but was unseated just three months later.

Now Bristol chairman Chris Booy has hailed Lam’s appointment as a real coup for the ambitious club, and one aimed at the long-term.

"Pat was the outstanding candidate in our search for a new head coach and impressed the board with his coaching ability, experience and enthusiasm for the task ahead," said Booy.

"We’re very pleased to appoint an individual of his quality. The board has been patient in our approach to ensure we have the right man to take this club forward in the long term.

"Pat has transformed a Connacht team into PRO12 champions and we believe he can build a squad, a culture and an environment that can be successful in the Aviva Premiership."

Connacht CEO Willie Ruane has paid tribute to Lam and says they "remain extremely confident and excited about the future."

He also confirmed that they will begin talks with the IRFU immediately to start the process of recruiting Lam's replacement.

Connacht have made a shaky start to the defence of their Pro 12 crown and currently sit in 8th place, but they lead their pool in the European Champions Cup.

Lam made no reference to his future after Saturday's bonus point win over Treviso, and instead spoke of having more of his players fit heading into the Christmas period.


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