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'I'm sure whoever is investigating it will see it as well': Leicester latest on subgate

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Leicester boss Steve Borthwick has given his latest take on last Saturday’s touchline bust-up with Pat Lam and his league-leading Bristol. The round 21 Gallagher Premiership tie ended in bizarre circumstances with a heated argument over the status of substituted Bears prop John Afoa that resulted in Borthwick confronting Lam on the sideline.


After the play eventually restarted with Afoa in the Bristol front row for the contested clock-in-the-red scrum, a shunt by the Bears unsettled the Leicester ball and with the game ending after it was kicked to touch, a brawl broke out. The investigation into the players involved in that dust-up ended with no one getting into trouble as the citing officer didn’t feel anyone had committed a red card offence. 

However, there is still an ongoing investigation into what happened on the sideline minutes earlier and the bust-up that took place when referee Ian Tempest sought clarification on the status of Afoa, whom Lam had claimed was replaced injured but was written down as a tactical sub on the fourth official’s card.        

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Three days after the fiery exchanges, Borthwick held his weekly Leicester media briefing and he didn’t want to get into the matter beyond what was seen to unfold on Saturday. “I understand what you are asking me and as I said at the end of the game that I had no intention of talking about it,” he said.

It’s pretty clear what was being done, what was being said by people on the sideline. I am sure you have watched it, I’m sure you have heard it and I am sure whoever is investigating it will see it as well. I don’t really need to comment on it and I’ll just crack on with trying to coach well and trying to do things in what is deemed to be the right way.

“Ultimately that last scrum we didn’t scrum effectively enough so again it is another learning experience for us. They [Bristol] are an excellent team, a tremendously well-coached team packed full of star talent and when we gave them opportunities they took them in the game and they scored good tries, most of them from long range because they took their opportunities. We gave away too many opportunities and that shows where we are as a team right now.”


The argument on the touchline over whether Afoa was coming on or not caused upwards of a five-minute delay at a time when Leicester were winning repeated scrum penalties and had just seen Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Bristol’s replacement tighthead, sin-binned by the referee.

Asked if the delay was a problem that cost Leicester the win as they were unable to exert the same dominance at the set-piece when that final delayed scrum was allowed to proceed, Borthwick added: “It was the same for both teams, wasn’t it? Both teams had to wait the same amount of time, both teams had the same opportunity to address what they needed to address to go into that. 

“I don’t see it as an issue. Nowadays you have breaks, you have TMO, there are different times when there are stoppages. Everyone here has watched rugby for a long time and accepts that so how you manage those periods is an important part of the performance. 

“We have moved on, we have a game on Saturday against Wasps that we are looking forward to and their scrum has been very good this season, this last part of the season. They are coached really well and have some formidable players in that front row. You start looking at Kieran Brookes, Biyi Alo, these are good players so our focus has been very much let’s look ahead to Wasps now.”



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