Johnson fury as controversy sours England win

MANAGER Martin Johnson has revealed his anger after England’s progress to the World Cup quarter-finals were overshadowed by fresh allegations about the behaviour of his players.

Johnson confirmed that wing Chris Ashton, flanker James Haskell and hooker Dylan Hartley were made to apologise to a Dunedin hotel employee over comments they made to her.

The incident, which emerged yesterday but happened on the day before England’s tournament opener against Argentina, is the latest in a series of controversies to beset the team’s expedition to New Zealand.

It follows unwelcome headlines about vice-captain Mike Tindall’s visit to a Queenstown bar, the suspension of two England coaches for trying to illegally switch balls during a game and the banning of lock Courtney Lawes.

“I was angry with them,” Johnson (right) said of Ashton, Haskell and Hartley. “What they thought was humour and a light-hearted exchange has clearly not been taken that way by the girl involved.

“At the time, they apologised when they realised they had stepped over the mark. They had no idea how upset she subsequently became. The guys formally apologised. They were shocked when they understood how upset she had become.”

The latest controversy – and the citing of wing Delon Armitage for a high tackle in Sunday’s decisive win over Scotland – raises further questions about England’s discipline, which Johnson was quick to insist remains robust.

“We investigated the facts fully,” he added. “They have been disciplined, reprimanded for their behaviour and left in no doubt. If you leave yourself open for these headlines to be written it drags us all into it and that is what makes me particularly angry.”

Johnson, whose side will meet France in the last eight, also rejected suggestions he could send Tindall home after it emerged the centre’s initial account of his night out in Queenstown had been misleading.

DRAW | WORLD CUP QUARTER-FINALS
October 8: Ireland v Wales, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 06:00

October 8: England v France, Eden Park, Auckland, 08:30

October 9: Australia v South Africa, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 06:00

October 9: Argentina v New Zealand, Eden Park, Auckland, 08:30