Pat Lam Blames The IRFU For His Connacht Exit
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‘I wouldn’t be leaving if it wasn’t for IRFU release clause.’
Pat Lam blames the IRFU and the six-month release clause that they give all coaches in Ireland for his Connacht exit. Lam finished up with Connacht last week and will take up a new role with Championship side Bristol ahead of next season.
Lam says if it wasn’t for the IRFU, he wouldn’t be going anywhere.
“If they had listened to me, I wouldn’t be going anywhere because I wouldn’t break a contract,” Lam told the Irish Times.
“The problem is all the other clubs know the Irish coaches have this in their contract, so guess what happens? November/December each year people start making contact knowing there is a clause that you can get out of the contract.”
Lam says it is the same for Munster’s Erasmus, Leinster’s Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster, and Ulster’s Les Kiss.
“Everyone worldwide knows they have this in their contracts, but it is one area that needs to change, otherwise Ireland will continue to lose coaches,” he says.
“It was one reason I held off signing. I wasn’t comfortable with it right from the beginning. They gave me two years plus one; I wanted three, but they wanted the option to test if Pat was any good, and that’s fair enough, but the fundamental problem was the six months.
“I rang Joe Schmidt [then with Leinster] and he said it works in our favour because we have to be extremely bad, and if we back ourselves, it’s extremely unlikely they’ll let us go, but if it doesn’t work out for us, then we could always leave.
“I thought ‘Jesus’, how bizzare, so I did the two years, and they offered me a two plus one year again, and I was annoyed by that. I almost didn’t sign it. Why a two plus one again when they know me? But they made it a three year deal, and then I saw the clause, so it ended up being a two year deal, but they wouldn’t take the clause out.
“Again I am not pointing the finger at any one, but the IRFU needs to understand the reason I felt so strongly about it is because they used to have it in New Zealand, and with Dave Rennie and Todd Blackadder, we all fought to have it removed because you either back us or you don’t.
“Instead of a selection panel doing all the homework and making sure they have the right person, it gives them a little out to say “we’ll give this person a go and see, but we have an out to get rid of him. I just think do your homework, and if the you have the right person, back it. I can understand the first term, but the second – they should take it out.”