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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Wednesday, May 22nd 2019

Feature: Relentless Lam’s Bristol mission only getting started

Pat Lam’s post-match verdict at Kingston Park told you everything you need to know about his long-term vision and ambition for a Bristol Bears side which has undoubtedly left its mark on the Gallagher Premiership.

The regular season had only concluded just minutes earlier, but the head coach already had one eye on his side’s next crack at a league deemed by many to be stronger now than ever before. 

“I’m pleased but not satisfied,” said Lam, after Bristol had secured a ninth-place finish, and the highest points tally by a promoted side for more than 12 years, with victory at relegated Newcastle Falcons.

“We’ve made a lot of progress with guys who are new to Premiership rugby, and the beauty of next year is that they get another go with experience under their belts,” he added.

“We’ve made a lot of progress with guys who are new to Premiership rugby, and the beauty of next year is that they get another go with experience under their belts.”

Pat Lam, Director of Rugby

Lam’s new four-year contract is a picture-perfect conclusion to a season that has seen the newly-rebranded Bears leave their prints with an exciting and eye-catching brand of rugby. It’s a brand being implemented by a young and fearless squad, awash with players plucked from the Championship and sprinkled with the stardust of established internationals.

On recruitment and retention, Lam often speaks of a player’s hunger and ‘coachability’ – and with the meteoric rise of the likes of Harry Randall, Piers O’Conor, Andy Uren, Callum Sheedy and Dan Thomas, the Bears boss has a haul of players swiftly blossoming into household names, with the aid of an equally young (in coaching terms) team of coaches.

In the stands, it’s been a record-breaking season at Ashton Gate, with an average attendance of more than 16,000 contributing to some breathtaking occasions – none more so than the opening day victory over local rivals, Bath, watched by more than 26,000. And there’s certainly appetite for more, with an already record number of season cards sold for the 2019/20 campaign.

Lam, his staff and players have regenerated a city desperate for rugby success and hungry for silverware – and the newly-titled Director of Rugby is devoted to delivering it.

“I want Bristolians to be fiercely proud of their rugby club and of the players who represent them,” said Lam, after signing his new deal.

“Our mission is to create fantastic rugby players and even better people off the field. That’s why our commitment to our community, to developing homegrown talent and to working relentlessly in pursuit of our goals remains stronger than ever.

“I’m proud to commit my future to Bristol and it was an easy decision to make. We’ve set out a plan to bring a Premiership trophy to Ashton Gate and we’re at the start of that journey,” he added.

With huge and meaningful strides already made in just two years, Bristol fans will be euphoric at the prospect of four more years of Pat Lam in the West Country – and the man himself insists he has ‘absolute confidence’ as he looks to the future.

“It’s been an incredible two years so far in the city,” he said. “It’s amazing what can be achieved when you approach challenges with strong belief and a positive mindset.

“We have absolute confidence that we will achieve our team goals and Steve [Lansdown], Jon [Lansdown] and Chris [Booy] continue to drive that vision.”