Lam's regret is an IRFU issue

Pat Lam's one regret leaving Ireland next week is the IRFU's contract policy that includes a six-month release clause.

Lam, who wraps up his four year stint in Connacht this weekend when attending the wedding of his captain John Muldoon, says had the clause been removed, he would still be here.

"I they had listened to me, I wouldn't be going because I wouldn't break a contract," he says. "The problem is all the other clubs know the Irish coaches have this in their contract, so guess what happens? November/December each year people start making contact knowing there is a clause to get out of the contract."

Lam says it is the same for Munster's Rassie Erasmus, Leinster's Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster, and Ulster's Les Kiss. "Everyone worldwide knows they have this in their contracts, but it is one area that needs to change, otherwise Ireland will continue to lose coaches," he says.

Lam says the clause was always a sticking point.

"It was one reason I held off signing. I wasn't comfortable with it right from the beginning. They gave me two years plus one; I wanted three, but they wanted the option to test if Pat was any good, and that's fair enough, but the fundamental problem was the six months.

"I rang Joe Schmidt [then with Leinster] and he said it works in our favour because we have to be extremely bad, and if we back ourselves, it's extremely unlikely they'll let us go, but if it doesn't work out for us, then we could always leave.

"I thought 'Jesus', how bizzare, so I did the two years, and they offered me a two plus one year again, and I was annoyed by that. I almost didn't sign it. Why a two plus one again when they know me? But they made it a three year deal, and then I saw the clause, so it ended up being a two year deal, but they wouldn't take the clause out.

"Again I am not pointing the finger at any one, but the IRFU needs to understand the reason I felt so strongly about it is because they used to have it in New Zealand, and, with Dave Rennie and Todd Blackadder, we all fought to have it removed because you either back us or you don't.

"Instead of a selection panel doing all the homework and making sure they have the right person, it gives them a little out to say ‘we'll give this person a go and see, but we have an out if we need it’. I just think, do your homework, and if you have the right person, back it. I can understand the first term, but the second - they should take it out."

Lam says the clause affected the Connacht squad just six months after claiming the PRO 12 trophy.

"It's not ideal, without a doubt it had an effect. I can see it [with players] and I can see it with staff too. It made me more determined to tick every box.

"There is no doubt players start thinking it's 'OK', it's just human nature, particularly when you have 40/50 players, including the academy. You have 15 who love you, another eight/10 who are "oh, I'm not selected" and the others who are not playing, and it can become very difficult. "Who it affected most I think was some of the staff. They realised Pat is not going to be here, and there are people who do their jobs and people who keep their jobs - that is the danger."



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