Pat Lam to leave Connacht at the end of the 2016/2017 season to join Bristol

Lam has lead the province to unprecedented success in his time in the west

Pat Lam to leave Connacht at the end of the 2016/2017 season to join Bristol

Pat Lam (head coach of Connacht Rugby) with the Pro12 trophy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Pat Lam has officially confirmed that he will leave Connacht at the end of the current season. 

The former Samoan international lead Connahct to glory in the PRO 12 last year, and this move has come as a surprise to many fans, who had seen the team seal deals to hold on to some key players in recent months.

In an official press release, Connacht stated that:

"Pat Lam has announced he will be leaving the club at the end of the 2016/17 season.  The former Samoa captain, currently in his fourth season with Connacht, will finish up next summer to take up a new coaching role."

Bristol Rugby confirmed the news that he would be joining them shortly after Connacht made the announcement that he would be leaving at the end of the season.

Players have taken to Twitter to express their frustration in the wake of the news breaking on Monday morning, including Bundee Aki.

Lam himself said that: “This has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my life as Connacht and Galway is such a special place for myself and my family. The friendships, support and memories we all  have experienced throughout our time in the West of Ireland is truly heartfelt and will never be forgotten.

"I feel extremely blessed to have been given an opportunity four years ago to build on the excellent work of Eric Elwood. I’m very proud that I can now pass on the baton with the knowledge that Connacht Rugby is truly seen as one of four strong provinces of Irish rugby."

"We want to continue to inspire our community and we have many more opportunities on and off the field to do that this season,” he added

Speaking about the departure of the figure that has been so key to their success over the last few seasons, Connacht CEO Willie Ruane added: “Firstly I’d like to thank Pat for everything he has done for Connacht Rugby. He led the province to a first ever trophy and that will be something that will live long in the memory. While there is a lot of rugby yet to be played this season, we wish Pat, Steph and their family the very best in the next chapter of their lives.

“Connacht Rugby has made a huge amount of progress over the last number of years, with Pat building on the great work of those who went before him and we remain extremely confident and excited about the future."

Both Lam and Ruane face the media later this week at the scheduled press conference on Wednesday, which is sure to now focus on the news of the coach's departure.