Pat Lam Says Seeing Axel Die So Young Was Key In His Decision To Leave Connacht
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Connacht fans were left shocked this week by the announcement that Pat Lam would be leaving the Sportsground at the end of the season.
The Kiwi had another year to run on the contract he signed in 2015, but has come to an agreement with Connacht to leave and has described the decision as “one of the most difficult I’ve had to make in my life”
Aviva Premiership strugglers Bristol revealed shortly after the shocking announcement that the former Samoa captain would be taking over as their new head coach next season. Lam has now explained his reasoning behind accepting in an emotional press conference today.
Lam pointed out that the three other provincial coaches in place when he started at Connacht are no longer in those roles as an illustration of how quickly the working life of a professional coach can change.
Lam stressed that he before he arrived in Connacht, he had been “a sacked coach for seven months with no job, five kids and a wife.”
“In my whole process I look at my rugby career because I am responsible for my family too. Are you ok to go to Galway? Are you ok to go to Newcastle? And when I came back from Bristol, we put it all on the table and we said: No. We are happy here. We love it here.
Two weeks ago, Bristol put an offer down and it was quite significant. They pretty much said: can you come here and do what you did in Connacht. That completely flipped my decision from rugby to family.
The reason why it did is that when I went down to Killaloe to see my good friend Axel at his removal and I saw Olive and saw his kids….when I left there, Axel, who was in that coaching environment and when I saw him there and found out what happened and we are so close because we are in the same situation: I am the second Pat Lam on this earth.
“The first one: I was named after my grandfather and he died of a heart attack at the age of 55 when I was nine. My father, through this whole process, shouldn’t have been here but thanks to technology he went through a quadruple bypass. I have heart issues anyway. But what it did for me was when I left all Killaloe with Willie and Tim, all I could think about was if that happened me, what would happen to Steph and the kids.”
Lam revealed that the offer he received from Bristol was sufficient to make him feel that his family’s future would be secure “if my number comes up.”
You can see how much Connacht and the West of Ireland means to Lam, but family always comes first.