Pat Lam fined by Pro12 disciplinary committee
‘By way of sanction, the Disciplinary Committee fined Mr Lam €8,000 (€5,000 suspended)’
Connacht’s head coach Pat Lam has been fined by the Pro12’s disciplinary committee. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Connacht head coach Pat Lam has been fined by the Pro12 disciplinary committee after being deemed to have “publicly criticised and/or questioned the integrity” of assistant referee Leighton Hodges during a match against Cardiff Blues earlier this month.
The independent committee met on Thursday following a misconduct complaint brought against the province’s manager by the Disciplinary Officer of Pro12 Rugby, Jon Davis.
In a Pro12 statement released on Friday afternoon they stated that the committee had “upheld the misconduct complaint and found that Mr Lam had made comments shortly after the match in an interview with representatives of a broadcaster, and separately in a press conference, that had been critical of and/or had questioned the integrity of Mr Hodges.
“By way of sanction, the Disciplinary Committee fined Mr Lam €8,000 (€5,000 of which is to be suspended).”
The comments were made following the team’s 18-17 defeat to the Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on March 6th.
Lam was unhappy with the intervention of assistant referee Leighton Hodges in injury time at the end of the match in directing referee Lloyd Linton to award the Blues a penalty for hands in a ruck by a Connacht player in what was effectively the last play of the match and from which, the home side managed subsequently, to score a converted try.
The Connacht coach in a post-match interview spoke about having a previous issue with Hodges for a remark the official is alleged to have made prior to a Pro12 game against Edinburgh. The Irish province later confirmed that they made a formal, specific complaint to independent referee match commissioner, Ed Morrison in the wake of the Edinburgh match.
The Disciplinary Committee, comprising Rod McKenzie as chairman and Rob Flockhart (both Scotland), heard submissions on behalf of the Disciplinary Officer and the Connacht head coach, and considered evidence of the incident in question. In their statement Pro12 say that “Mr Lam accepted that his actions constituted misconduct”.
Lam, who had received a written warning from the Disciplinary Officer about similar conduct last season, was also ordered to pay a contribution to the costs of the hearing (including the legal costs incurred by the Disciplinary Officer).
The Disciplinary Officer, Mr Davis, commented: ‘Pro12 Rugby welcomes the Disciplinary Committee’s decision in this case. 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.”
Mr Lam has a right of appeal.