Bristol Bears defense coach Omar Mouneimne was confronted by the club’s senior players as the prime suspect of a Twitter ‘burner’ account criticizing director of rugby Pat Lam, Telegraph Sport understands.
Bristol, who are languishing in tenth place after a disappointing season on the field, have become embroiled in their very own “Wagatha Christie” scandal off it, regarding online comments by a now deleted account.
Mouneimne has strenuously denied any involvement and remains in position at the Premiership club. It was the players, including second row Dave Attwood, who first raised the alarm after an account called “GrindRugby” posted a number of comments that seemed to suggest internal knowledge of Bristol’s training methods.
Responding to critical posts of Bristol’s defence, which has conceded the third most points and tries this campaign, GrindRugby responded: “Take a look at the defensive stats for last season-top of the league! Pat wants 5 mins of d training a week to focus on attack- absolute bs!” The account replied to another post: “But all Pat wants to do is train attack!! And not even at pace or with enthusiasm. He’s killing everyone in the squad.”
This caught the attention of former England second row Attwood who called it an “oddly specific criticism” and added “are you watching us train by any chance?”
There were further cutting comments of Lam from GrindRugby. Players are fed up already! Mauls and line outs also shocking today- training attack only isn’t winning us anything!”
Another post specifically defended Mouneimne from criticism. “Do you know Omar has 16 years in pro coaching experience with huge success rates with every club?”
Much like with the current “Wagatha Christie” case – in which Rebekah Vardy is currently suing Coleeen Rooney for libel following accusations fake stories were leaked to the tabloids – there is no direct evidence that Mouneimne operated the account, which has since been removed since players took concerns to management.
It would be the highest profile rugby Twitter burner account since the “Jaco Johan” which was strongly linked to Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus during last summer’s Lions series.
A former mixed martial arts fighter, Mouneimne incorporates wrestling techniques into a lot of his defensive drills. The South African joined Bristol from Worcester in 2020 and last season Bristol conceded the second fewest points and tries in the division.
However, as with many other departments at the club, Mouneimne has failed to maintain those lofty standards this season. The loss of center Siale Piutau, the club’s defensive captain from the previous campaign, has been acutely felt while a succession of injuries to key players has further disrupted continuity.
A disappointing season has been compounded by the club’s salary cap error when they failed to release a number of players before their automatic contract extensions kicked in. This has led to a fire sale with Attwood, prop John Afoa, center Antoine Frisch, wing Alapati Leiua and No 8 Nathan Hughes agreeing deals elsewhere in recent weeks.
Telegraph Sport understands that fly half Tiff Eden is bound for France while wing Luke Morahan is likely to return to Australia despite attracting interest from Wasps. The club remain confident that they will be under the £5million salary cap by the summer but the main effect of the blunder, which has been seen chief executive Mark Tainton depart, has been to put a freeze on recruitment despite the club being in the market for a lock and an inside centre.
Despite their disappointing season, Lam is understood to retain full support of owner Steve Lansdown and they will be boosted by the arrivals of fly half AJ MacGinty and Bristolian England prop Ellis Genge in the summer.
A club spokesperson refused to comment on Telegraph Sport’s story last night. Mouneimne was not available for comment.