Pat Lam gave an official line on reports the club have found themselves in a mess of contracts ahead of next season after missing a deadline, but also provided some additional information.
Lam’s comments to BT Sport before his side were beaten 39-22 by Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens, follow reports from Bristol faced with the loss of several basic players wanted in their team as the club are desperate to offload their contacts to sneak under the salary cap, as a serious administrative error put them in danger of going over it next season.
The Daily Telegraph reporting that the Bears missed a deadline to notify a number of players that they would not be taking the option of an additional year on their contracts; as a result, the deals have technically been automatically kicked off, meaning the club could risk spending too much under the reduced £5million salary cap unless they find savings elsewhere, which they are doing.
Speaking for the first time since the story broke, Bristol director of rugby Lam said: “The job of a DoR is one of the most exciting jobs there is.
“It’s like the weather in England, you have the sun shining, the rain, but the sun always comes out.
“I’m not going to comment on the internal process. All we do is try to improve and learn from our mistakes, but at the end of the day, as we said in the statement released yesterday, we have always been below the salary cap and will continue to do so. be under the salary cap and that’s not a problem.
“As for the team, I do a lot of my work early.
“For our fans, our team is going to keep getting better and stronger – which is always the goal.
“There are always little moments and things, but in the end we are in a good place.”
Indeed, Lam did his recruiting work early, already signing loose Leicester Tigers captain Ellis Genge, United States captain AJ MacGinty and Scottish international backrower Magnus Bradbury. More additions are expected to be confirmed next week, along with some contract renewals.
However, they will also be big names at the Bears with former England international Dave Attwood confirmed as joining Bath next season and former England number eight Nathan Hughes moving to Clermont.
Lam continued, “Every year the team changes, the majority of the people we wanted to keep were taken out early, and then you get to that point and you go through [the rest of the squad].”
With the Gallagher Premiership salary cap now down to £5m from £6.3m in 2019/20 and marquee players – whose salaries are outside the cap – dropping from two to one a season next, Lam said rugby managers and players across the country are feeling the pressure.
He explained: “The challenge we face as DoR, and every other club, is that with the salary cap coming down, every week a senior player moves from one club to another club, and he there is a risk that there are players who do not have contracts through the Premiership.
“That’s the risk we all face.”
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