Willie Ruane: Connacht will pick Pat Lam's successor, not the IRFU

Connacht have begun the process of replacing Pat Lam as head coach after the province’s top officials met at the Sportsground yesterday and CEO Willie Ruane insists it is Connacht, not the IRFU, that will decide who gets the job.

The Connacht Professional Game Board (PCB) met for their scheduled meeting in Galway yesterday where they began the process of thrashing out how they will replace Lam who will join Bristol at the end of this season.

Ruane says they will work with the IRFU and David Nucifora to find Lam’s replacement, but that the new man will be Connacht’s call.

“We’ll decide [who gets the job], but really you are working in tandem with the IRFU,” said Ruane. “It’s not that you are going to go off on a solo run and make a decision, but at the same time the IRFU and David Nucifora have vast experience in the whole area of recruiting coaches.

“We’d be daft not to engage with the IRFU to try and get the best candidate, so that’s what we’ll be doing. We’ll be using the IRFU as support.

He continued: “First and foremost we need to be very clear in terms of what is it we are looking for. I don’t think it’s a case that you look for a clone of Pat Lam. The positive to this is we can undertake a search process where we are not having to worry about the fact whether anyone finds out that we are actually searching. We’re not doing it under the dark of night. I have no doubt that we’ll be able to find a really high quality and ambitious head coach that will be able to go in and pick up the reins and put their own stamp on it.”

Meanwhile, Ireland lock Dan Tuohy has joined Bristol from Ulster. The Bristol-born 31-year-old played 136 times for Ulster and has 11 Ireland caps, the most recent coming against Scotland in 2015. He returned to action in October after 10 months on the sidelines with a fractured ankle. Tuohy is a product of Weston-Super-Mare RFC’s youth system and had spells at Gloucester and Exeter before joining Ulster in 2009. He has suffered injuries in recent years, also breaking an arm against Wales during the 2014 Six Nations.

“I know what Bristol Rugby is all about and what it means to the passionate supporters,” Tuohy said. “I want to thank Ulster Rugby and the IRFU for the past seven-and-a-half years and wish them the very best in the future. My attention now turns to helping Bristol retain their place in the Premiership.”

Details of Tuohy’s new contract were not disclosed.

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