Connacht coach Pat Lam will make an immediate return to the Sportsground this summer with his new club Bristol.
Lam is going to bring the recently relegated English to Galway for a pre-season game in the summer and has vowed to play Connacht every year.
The province’s most successful coach, who helped Connacht to their first ever piece of silverware last season when they won the PRO12 title, leaves for Ashton Gate in a few weeks.
Connacht backs coach Conor McPhillips will join Lam at Bristol and he is being replaced by Nigel Carolan in the coaching team at the Sportsground.
Waikato Chiefs backs coach Kieran Keane takes over the reins in Galway, and Tim Allnutt continues as manager.
Lam says that his brilliant relationship with Allnutt means he will return every pre-season with Bristol, starting on August 27 this year.
“The first guy to pick me up when I arrived here was Tim Allnutt, the longest serving manager in PRO12 Rugby, and a South Islander from New Zealand,” said Lam.
“I knew straight away the relationship that I had to build the most was with Tim, because together we could run the team.
“There are so many reasons we haven’t performed as well as we did last year and obviously the pre-season was one of them.
“And one of the things that we have come to a little agreement with was Bristol sent me the pre-season schedule, they already have the games lined up.
“Teams don’t really want to come to us in pre-season, it’s very difficult to get a team to come here. So we did our own little arrangement and I said cancel that last one. Look up flights to Galway.”
Lam takes charge of his final PRO12 game this weekend when Connacht travel to take on interprovincial rivals Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday.
But they will hope to return to the Sportsground in a Champions Cup play-off final if they can win their semi-final in England. And Lam is excited about bringing Bristol back too.
“While Tim and I are still there, there is going to be an annual game between Connacht and Bristol,” said Lam.
“That’s when I will come back to Galway. It will help Connacht and Bristol, and they will come back.”
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