Tuesday 21 November 2017

Clause in Pat Lam's Connacht contract explains timing of his shock announcement

Pat Lam and John Muldoon Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Pat Lam and John Muldoon Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

JOHN FALLON

A six-month minimum notice clause is believed to be the primary factor in the timing of the announcement of Pat Lam’s departure from Connacht this week.

The escape clause meant that there wasn’t going to be a good time for Lam to make the announcement with the two Champions Cup games against Wasps being followed by Irish derbies against Ulster and Munster before the concluding European pool games in January.

Lam was under contract to remain in charge of Connacht until June 2018 but a clause in the deal when he extended his stay by three years in January 2015 meant that he had to act soon if he was to take charge of Bristol in the summer.

The announcement itself on Monday was difficult enough for Connacht fans to accept but the puzzlement at the timing may be explained by the six-month notice clause.

The process to find Lam’s replacement begins in earnest this (TUES) morning when the Connacht Professional Game Board meets at the Sportsground.

Players also return to training today. They were on a day off on Monday when they received instructions to go to the Sportsground, apparently under the assumption of some screening procedure.

Some had to travel from Dublin for the Monday morning meeting at the Sportsground where Lam told them in person he was departing.

One player said there was absolute shock in the room, while Bundee Aki, who recently turned down lucrative offers from France and England to sign a three-year contract extension, didn’t hide his disappointment when he took to Twitter and proclaimed: ‘Feeling p*ssed’.

The Pro12 player of the season may now face disciplinary action for his outburst to add to the unrest at the Sportsground.

It is understood player also faced disciplinary measures recently when he tweeted an indication that he was about to leave Connacht before a hastily arranged press conference the following day announced that he has signed a three-year contract extension.

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