A few eyebrows were raised last season when it was announced that Pat Lam would be leaving Connacht at the end of the 2016/2017 season to take up a three-year role as head coach of Bristol Rugby.
Although there was a considerable shock in Ireland that Irish Rugby would be losing one of its best coaches, there was also a level of intrigue to Lam’s decision to join Bristol, who even during the middle of the season, looked destined for relegation.
Although the club has been relegated to English rugby’s second tier, Lam likes a project and that’s how he certainly sees the next three years. Lam has been with the club for the last two weeks and the squad are currently going through their pre-season preparations ahead of what should be a direct return to the Premiership.
However, Lam doesn’t want to stop there. He has outlined that he wants to establish Bristol as a Champions Cup club.
“We are not interested in survival in the Premiership, we are not interested in obviously staying in the Championship, and we are not interested about getting up and staying there,” Lam told the Bristol Post.
“Everything is working our way towards being a Champions Cup team. To do that we have got to do everything at an international standard.”
And perhaps something which will develop the club further in the long-term, even what Lam has finished his time with the club, is the aim to get Bristol players playing for their hometown club and eventually making their way into the England setup.
“There is plenty of talent around here – it is about what you do with the talent.
“But we need to inspire those kids to say ‘When I grow up I want to play for Bristol. I want to get there, I want to play for England and I want to play at the highest level.’”
Those are some very encouraging words from Lam and supporters of the club will undoubtedly be excited for what the future holds.