Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam is “absolutely over the moon” that the Rugby Football Union is conducting an inquiry into the contentious ending to Saturday’s victory at Leicester.
Lam was accused of lying by Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick during a heated touchline disagreement in the closing stages of the Bears’ narrow 26-23 Gallagher Premiership success at Welford Road.
The argument centred on uncertainty as to whether John Afoa, who had earlier been substituted, was fit to return to the field after fellow Bristol prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro picked up a late yellow card for repeated team infringements at the scrum.
Lam believes the full context of the dispute is yet to be revealed and is eager to have his version of events heard by the governing body.
“I was hoping and I am absolutely over the moon that I received an email (from the RFU) that there is an inquiry going on, which is fantastic,” he said ahead of Saturday’s regular-season finale at home to London Irish.
“What it enables is the true context and the full story.
“At the moment, that process is happening. As you can appreciate, I can’t talk further until that happens. I am just really, really pleased that the full context comes out because what people see is part of a bigger picture and once that has gone through a process then the full picture will be explained and then people can make judgement.
“I am very used to people making judgements without the full story and I am looking forward to this process to happen.”
Afoa’s half-time withdrawal had been recorded as tactical, but Lam claimed the player was injured and therefore unable to go back on.
The coach then appeared to change his stance and allowed the former All Black to return when informed by referee Ian Tempest that he would be required to bring off another player as Chaparro was joining Bristol front-rower Jake Kerr in the bin, which would lead to uncontested scrums.
Tigers boss Borthwick was recorded on pitchside microphones saying: “Pat you just said he was injured. Don’t lie Pat, don’t lie. Just don’t lie.”
At the time, Lam is heard to have responded: “I’m not lying Steve, I don’t lie.”
With tensions still running high, Afoa helped the table-topping Bears hold on for a slender success, which left them three points above defending champions Exeter with one round of fixtures to go before the play-offs.
Players from both teams became involved in a mass brawl at full-time but have avoided disciplinary action.
Asked if his welcoming of the investigation meant he was content he had done nothing wrong, Lam gave little away.
“That’s the process. Once that process happens I will know the outcome out of that. But as I said, I am absolutely pleased that this process is happening,” replied the 52-year-old.
“When the outcome comes we’ll know based on all the facts and all the context and give us the outcomes that I am looking for today.”
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