Ruane insists final coach choice will be 'Connacht's decision'
Connacht CEO Willie Ruane has refuted suggestions of a potential "crisis" in the wake of Pat Lam's shock departure from his post and insisted that they will have the final say in the appointment of a new coach.
Declaring that nobody is "irreplaceable", the province's former full-back also claimed that the outcome has been great for "both parties" despite rumblings of discontent in some quarters at the timing of Lam's departure, particularly the fact that both sides had a six-month option to end the deal.
"I was asked a while back, 'Were there specific clauses with regards to so-called bigger clubs?' There were no specific clauses with regard to so-called bigger clubs.
"There was a clause which allowed Pat to leave with six months' notice. But I have absolutely no issue at all. Pat has done so much for Connacht rugby.
"We agreed a contract that we are all happy with. The outcome has been great for both parties and we are very thankful to Pat.
"I can only wish him all the best. And genuinely Bristol are getting a good one.
"It's not a crisis at all. We lost two key players but we retained the likes of Ultan Dillane and Bundee Aki, two of arguably the biggest players in the squad. It's not a crisis at all.
"It's part of professional sport and that is the harsh reality of it. People come and people go. The main thing is are the structures in place to allow you to continue to grow and achieve your objectives?
"If you don't have the structure where you can replace someone, that is a crisis."
That process has already begun with cvs plopping into Ruane's in-tray already and, while he will be expected to work in tandem with IRFU performance director David Nucifora - who ultimately pick up the tab - Connacht will retain control of the recruitment, according to Ruane.
"It's Connacht Rugby's decision as to who we want to appoint into a head coach role but we absolutely want to make the decision with the IRFU," said Ruane who, when pressed as to nationality, said he was "keeping all options open".
"Without blowing our trumpet, it is an attractive job. We are the Pro12 champions so it is a pretty attractive role.
"When someone is looking at Connacht Rugby they will see a complete picture with an awful lot going for it and Pat has played a big part in that.
"But again even in terms of the work Eric Elwood is doing in the grassroots game, through the feeder system, the work that Nigel Carolan is doing within our academy, none of that changes."