Wednesday 18 October 2017

Lam turns band of brothers into champions

Connacht head coach Pat Lam celebrates following his side's victory. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht head coach Pat Lam celebrates following his side's victory. Photo: Sportsfile

Joe Molloy

While his players continued the celebrations somewhere very loud and very busy on Monday evening, their coach Pat Lam stayed at home, taking in the Galway sunshine.

"I'm trying to get my colour back," he said, as he waited for the return of his family, who were still en route from Edinburgh. We interrupted him briefly for a phone call. "Dia Dhuit," he opened. "Conas atá tú?"

This is now the unashamed Connacht way of course; Irish used throughout the organisation. It was one of the many small practices Lam hoped might link the 'blow-ins', his description, with the local guys and the area they represent.

Much like the handshake they use each morning, which incorporates the five counties of Connacht, it all had the potential to induce a paralysis of cringe. Instead, it worked a treat.


That says something about the players and their maturity. You need special people to do special things. This eclectic band of brothers, all 46 who played across the season, have created something to cherish.

On his arrival, Lam made a presentation about himself, and in particular what's important to him. Family featured heavily. He asked the team to do something similar. Across pre-season, they each made a ten-minute presentation to the group about their families.

Lam was struck by the emphasis on grandparents. He was struck full stop by the quality of person in the group. He recalled it on Monday as a period where he realised the human potential at his disposal.

None of this stuff counts for much of course if you haven't got the right rugby systems in place. It can all start to feel a bit new age and inconsequential; all the passion in the world counts for nothing if not channelled with some sophistication.

Connacht play a brand of rugby which bizarrely puts pressure on Ireland. We had texts into the show wondering if Ireland could play more like Connacht. That's when you know something strange and wonderful has happened. Pat Lam, maith an fear.

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