Pat Lam was tempted away by a “significant and compelling” offer from Bristol but Connacht already have a list of replacements drawn up.
The former Samoa international will quit the province at the end of the season and move to Bristol, while Connacht will now begin the process, along with the IRFU, of the recruitment of a new head coach.
“Pat got approached by, what he described himself, as a very significant and compelling offer,” chairman of the rugby advisory board at Connacht Conor McGuinness told RTÉ Sport.
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“Bristol have a lot of funding and are a heavily financed club.
“We’ve know for a number of weeks, and we’ve been talking to Pat, that there has been interest in him.
“The reality is when you get to this level of success and when you look at what Pat did in coming into Connacht Rugby four years ago, and you look at the success we had, and not just success in terms of silverware, but the type of rugby we play.
“We play a very attractive brand of rugby. In looking for a replacement we are very clear in terms of the type of rugby that we want to play.
“It’s the brand that we have built over the last three or four years. And that’s what we’re going to build on."
Reaction from Connacht on Pat Lam's "difficult decision" to leave the province https://t.co/GOGEqcebbO— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) December 5, 2016
Asked about potential replacements, McGuinness said: “We have [a list]. This is what we do in terms of the structures and the processes.
“As a rugby advisory board we actually have a contingency plan in place looking at potential coaches. Not just in terms of Pat Lam but in terms of succession plans around the other coaching teams.
“In the modern game you have to be looking around the next corner.
"We do have a list of names; we’re going to be meeting David Nucifora [IRFU performance director] and identifying the type of candidate that we want to take the club to the next level."
Listen to live Champions Cup commentary this weekend: Northampton v Leinster, Friday 1945 on 2fm's Game On, and Wasps v Connacht, RTÉ Radio One's Sunday Sport, from 1300 on LW252 and DAB.