Stuart Lancaster’s name has inevitably been tossed into the rumour mill as a possible successor to Pat Lam at Connacht next season but the Leinster senior coach has hinted he is keen to remain in Dublin beyond the reach of his current one-season deal.
The former England coach had been just as prominent in the list of likely lads to assume the reins at Bristol next summer but he sought to clarify his position on that when interviewed just a couple of hours after confirmation that Lam was the chosen man.
“It’s probably worth clarifying that because I’ve seen my name linked with that,” he said of the Bristol role. “Just to clarify, I have never had one conversation with anyone from Bristol at all at any point. So don’t believe all you read … in the media.” Indeed.
When asked if he was keen to remain with Leinster he replied: “I’m keen to continue on what I am doing here. We will see how it plays out.”
However, indications are that both coach and club are happy with the current arrangement and alignment.
Lancaster’s redemption is certainly gathering pace in Dublin after his term as England head coach ended in the disastrous pool stage exit at last year’s World Cup when so much of the good he did across four years at the helm was washed away by the recriminations.
A focus on the intangibles of culture, community, and integrity — once heralded — was forgotten and in places derided after the on-pitch failure in 2015 but they are the very values promoted by Lam with Connacht and ones which Lancaster believes will be imported by the Kiwi to the UK.
Quotes attached to club statements should be consumed with a good deal of scepticism, if at all, but Lam’s tone was obvious in the words attributed to him by his soon-to-be new club yesterday as he spoke about his intention to harness local talent.
His mention of “Bristolians worldwide” held obvious comparisons with his frequent remarks about the wider Connacht family.
Lancaster spoke of Bristol’s tradition and history, a large support base and a city and hinterland firmly attached to rugby when describing Lam’s appointment as a good fit. It may have been manners that prevented him adding the part about the club’s billionaire backers.
Bristol are rooted to the foot of the Premiership having lost all 10 games after their promotion last season but Lancaster was in that same spot with Leeds once and knows how tough it can be. Bristol captain Jordan Crane, who he used to coach, has afforded him an inside line.
“I used to coach him in my academy and I texted him the other day. He says the players are still tight. So (Lam) is walking into a good setup. He’s got a chance to build something that can be sustainable in the short-term and the long-term and that is what Pat has done at Connacht.
“So he seems a great fit.”
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