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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Monday, August 13th 2018

Lam excited by ‘passion and hunger for success’

“To Inspire Our Community Through Rugby Success"

  • Champions Cup (striving to be a Champions Cup side)
  • England players (to provide a pathway for players to play for England)
  • Bristolians (to have Bristolians in the team)

Culture, leadership and the vision of the club remain at the forefront for Pat Lam, as the head coach prepares to lead Bristol Bears into the Gallagher Premiership and beyond.

Twelve months after taking over as head coach, Lam says his players and staff are now reading from the same page, benefitting from season of hard graft and education in the GKIPA Championship and now relishing a crack at the top flight.

“I’m happy with where we are at the moment, because it was such an important part of the plan to have everyone – players, staff, coaches – all understanding the direction we’re heading and the sense of our vision: ‘inspiring our community through rugby success’.

“Before our new staff members and new players came in, we were able to talk to all of them about the vision. We’ve pretty much done the process that I did before I got here, where I wanted to know from Steve and Chris what this was all about. If it wasn’t something that connected with me, I wouldn’t have come here.

“I’ve always said, for me, rugby has to be more than a game – it’s who you are and what you do, because that drives you every day and that’s what we’re trying to do with the players.

“We want to ‘inspire our community through rugby success’, we want to be a Champions Cup team, we want our English-qualified players to play for England, and we want Bristolians coming through.

“So, because I talk to a player about it before he signs, there’s no confusion and nothing takes them by surprise when we say, ‘we’re going to go to a community visit here’, or ‘we’re going to go and coach Bristol Bears Women’, it’s not a problem.

“I’m happy with where we are at the moment, because it was such an important part of the plan to have everyone – players, staff, coaches – all understanding the direction we’re heading and the sense of our vision: inspiring our community through rugby success."

Pat Lam, head coach

“So, 12 months later, it’s in a really good place. I wasn’t exactly pleased, when I arrived, that we were in the Championship, but it was a huge blessing in disguise because that part of setting up the vision and getting everybody working in the same direction was more important than being in the Premiership last season, so I now feel we have a stronger foundation to build our vision on.”

As a self-professed purveyor of emotion, Lam has been blown away by the passion of the club’s supporters, who have already purchased a record number a Season Cards and more than 16,000 tickets for the derby-day opener against Bath on August 31st.

“I was quite an emotional player and emotional coach, I’m passionate,” says Lam. “When you’re in the field and in the heat of battle, and you’re winning and hanging on with a minute to go, or you’re losing, and you’ve got to get in – what drives you more is the fact that you’re playing for something more than the game, I’m playing for my friends, my family, my neighbours, my community.

“In professional rugby, we all come from different places but if we connect them to our community, they understand what it is - and that’s what I love.

“So, when I meet like-minded people, when I meet the fans – and whether or not they agree with something – I love that they are passionate about what they believe in and that becomes infectious. It’s fantastic.

“That’s probably one of the highlights for me being at Bristol, the passion and the hunger that people have for success here, it just all fits in with what we’re trying to do.”

With a big emphasis on leadership – not only from one or two players, but across the board – Lam has confirmed he will not be appointing a permanent captain for the 2018/19 season.

“I believe at this present moment, with the team and the culture we’re building, I’m challenging all players to be leaders and have influence.

“Our team, day to day, is run by our leadership group, which everyone applies for if they want to. They go through an interview process and then they lead the group through different portfolios of responsibility.

“Then we have our alignment group or key players, who drive our game plan, so not everything is solely put on one person. The collective with everyone contributing positively is ideal for us going forward at this moment of our growth.

“That’s probably one of the highlights for me being at Bristol, the passion and hunger that people have for success here, it just all fits in with what we’re trying to do.”

Pat Lam, head coach

“So, what I’m going to do, similar to last season, is select our best team for any particular game and then out of that, select a captain. The captain will be there to toss the coin and lead, but he’ll have so many lieutenants responsible for certain things.” 

With less than three weeks until Bristol Bears kick off the season in blockbuster style against Bath at Ashton Gate, the head coach admits that excitement is his overriding emotion.

“I’m excited by the fact that there are so many people here hungry to be successful, staff and players.

“We’ve got some very good people here, but it’s about how well we perform our role and how well we connect.

“The thing I love about the Premiership is that there are no easy games, everyone can beat each other on their day.

“But I’m excited, particularly, for our fans - excited that we’ve got Bath, then Saracens, then Gloucester, the list just keeps going and it’s great to be a part of it.”

Tickets for the opening game of the season available online by clicking here on via supporter services on 0117 963 0600.