Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has hit back at Bristol head coach Pat Lam’s claims that his side are breaking rules at the line-out.

Lam claimed referees fail to penalise Exeter’s backs for offside when they join a maul and felt Exeter’s winning try against his side was as a result.

Lam said he discussed his concerns with the RFU but nothing had been done.

“I’m surprised he’s making such a big deal about it but yet letting his own team stand offside,” Baxter said.

“If everyone had stood onside and then he said ‘you’re being unfair’, then there’s perhaps a valid argument, but then at the same time we were told that the referee would allow us to enter the maul when he dropped his hand, which is exactly what he did,” the Chiefs’ director of rugby added to BBC Sport.

Lam ‘throwing up a bit of a smokescreen’

Pat Lam

Lam used his post-match press conference following Bristol’s 14-9 loss at Sandy Park on Saturday to outline what he felt were two RFU law breaches.

One says a player who is not in the line-out must retreat if the ball does not go 15 metres from the throw – something Lam claimed Exeter’s players do not do.

He also said Chiefs break another rule which says that a line-out only ends when a ruck or maul forms and the feet of all the players in that ruck or maul move beyond the mark of touch.

“As soon as the ball’s thrown, their midfield backs come running forward, which they have all rights to do do in the law,” Lam told BBC Radio Bristol after the game.

“But if the ball doesn’t go 15 metres and is brought down, and a maul is formed, they have to retreat 10 metres back, not hang around one, two or three metres and come in.”

But Baxter added: “It is throwing up a bit of a smokescreen in reality.

“If Pat wants to say that the offside line and moving within 10 metres needs to be more strictly refereed, he needs to apply it to his own team as well because the Bristol backs were offside.

“You can’t be asking the refereeing department to just blow a whistle and give a penalty when you’re committing the penalty yourself.

“I understand his concerns if he thinks things are happening illegally, but some of them are just a bit ‘it’s ok as long as the penalty goes our way’.”