“The misconduct complaint arose from comments made by Mr Lam to media representatives…more specifically, was that Mr Lam had, in those comments, publicly criticised and/or questioned the integrity of one of the assistant referees from that match, Leighton Hodges.”
The Connacht head coach appeared before an independent PRO12 Disciplinary Committee on Thursday after disciplinary officer Jon Davies lodged a complaint over post-match comments made by Lam after his side’s last-gasp defeat at Cardiff Blues.
The Irish province were leading 17-11 in the closing stages of the match on 6 March, but a late try from Joaquin Tuculet almost eight minutes into overtime gave the Blues an 18-17 win, which left the former Samoan international seething at the full-time whistle.
“It is the biggest call and I am absolutely gutted,” Lam said about the result.
”There is a changing room there that deserved more.
“The ball comes back, it’s 83:27 minutes into the game. Cardiff knock the ball on, there is no ruck, our hooker picks the ball up, it is cleared, the ref is just about to blow and then Leighton Hodges, the touch judge, says it’s hands in the ruck.
“A, clearly no ruck. B, clearly he knocked the ball on, and the referee is one metre away to call that.
“I’ve had texts from quite influential people agreeing that the decision is wrong.
“That is a massive call and it should be over and finished. I will go through the process now, but it was the wrong call and it cost us the game.
“The bottom line is that is a massive call to make in a game. To make a call like that which is completely wrong is disappointing.
“I believe we have to be accountable. We’re talking livelihoods here so officials need to be accountable too. I have full faith Ed Morrison will follow this up.”
A statement released by the PRO12 on Friday confirmed the extent of the complaint, that Lam had questioned the integrity of an official.
The hearing, made up of chair Rod McKenzie and Rob Flockhart (both from Scotland), heard submissions on behalf of Davies and Lam, and considered recordings of the latter’s statements.
Lam, who had received a written warning about similar conduct last season, accepted that his actions constituted misconduct and was hit with the fine, of which €5,000 (£3,619) is suspended.
While we understand that passions and emotions run high during and after matches, we have to uphold the reputation of the tournament, and protect our match officials from public criticism and attacks on their character.
PRO12 disciplinary officer Jon Davies on referee feedback
He was also ordered to pay a contribution to the costs of the hearing, including the legal costs incurred by the disciplinary officer.
Speaking after the decision was handed down, Davies reiterated the tournament’s stance that coaches and clubs should provide feedback on match officials through the appropriate channels.
“PRO12 Rugby welcomes the disciplinary committee’s decision in this case,” said Davies.
“While we understand that passions and emotions run high during and after matches, we have to uphold the reputation of the tournament, and protect our match officials from public criticism and attacks on their character.
“If coaches or others wish to provide feedback – positive or negative – on the performance of match officials, we at PRO12 welcome that feedback, but there is a clear mechanism for providing that feedback privately.”
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