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'What do we get for that? Zilch': Why Bristol are ignoring table

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Trending on RugbyPass

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Bristol boss Pat Lam has insisted that the one thing last season in the Gallagher Premiership reinforced with him is that league tables are largely irrelevant and that he won’t be looking at the latest top-flight standings until around June 2022. The Bears have endured a difficult start to the new season, the loss of four of their matches leaving them in twelfth place heading into this weekend’s trip to London Irish. 

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Lam’s side are already a whopping 23 points behind leaders Leicester, albeit with a game in hand, and the gap to Northampton, who currently occupy the fourth and final playoff spot, is 15 points. That is quite a gap to catch up but the seasoned Bristol boss isn’t losing any sleep over the Premiership standings given what happened to his team last season. 

Bristol led the way for the majority of the 2020/21 campaign and they finished in first place but their season was abruptly ended the following weekend when fourth-place Harlequins, who finished 14 points behind them in fourth place, came to Ashton Gate and caused an upset before going on to lift the title with a win over the second-place Exeter.  

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It’s why Lam is now paying no attention to a table where Bristol are just a point ahead of bottom club Bath who are in 13th and last place following their five losses. “Around June 2022,” quipped Lam when asked by RugbyPass at what stage in the season will he start looking at the league table.

“You guys [the media] said that last year, I didn’t say that. If you go back and look at any interviews that I gave last season it wasn’t about that [leading the table for so long], it was about the next job, five points are available, let’s go and get that. 

“We just happened to be ahead but it shows you it doesn’t mean anything. What did we get for that? Zilch. We lost four games, Quins lost eight and won the Premiership. That is just the way it works, so nothing counts now as far as that goes so there is no point looking at it. Where it counts is where you are going to be in June 2022. 

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“That is what it counts and even then the table just tells you that you are given an opportunity. Four teams will get an opportunity to try and win the title and whether you are first, second, third or fourth, it really doesn’t matter. It’s about which team is going to take that opportunity to get to the final and obviously we didn’t take ours. The table just tells you if you are going to get the opportunity.”

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