ENGLAND’S management team have launched a vehement defence of skipper Mike Tindall and several of his team-mates who embarked on a night out in Queenstown following last Saturday’s win over Argentina.
Tindall, who led the side in the absence of the injured Lewis Moody, and a group of players, including Dan Cole and Steve Thompson, visited a number of local bars having been granted the day off following their underwhelming 13-9 win over the Pumas.
But an England spokesman has been quick to play down the story and, in a statement issued by the RFU, insisted there was nothing untoward about the conduct or behaviour of any of the players.
The statement read: “Mike and several of the players were enjoying an evening out after he had led the team to a hard-earned victory over Argentina.
“Like all the lads he plays for England with a massive amount of passion and he was relaxing after a tough match.”
Before the squad departed for New Zealand, manager Martin Johnson revealed he would not be ruling with an iron fist and impose a strict alcohol ban on his players.
“When I started playing rugby at senior level you were dealing with blokes,” said the former World Cup winning captain last month.
“They treated us like adults and there is no reason to change that now they are professionals and things are far more organised in the game.
“They are there to make sensible decisions – if I can’t trust them, there is a simple choice for us to make.”
Tindall (left), who last month married the Queen’s granddaughter Zarah Phillips, is reported to have been one of the players to have attended a bar which was hosting a ‘Mad Midget Weekender’ event but the venue’s manager, Rich Deane, defended the conduct of the players on social networking site Facebook.
He wrote: “Firstly: There was no dwarf throwing – that’s just not cool! Secondly: There was no scandal by any of the English rugby players that we saw!
“They were great lads, not throwing the midgets, it was all light-hearted good-humoured fun!”
BAD BOYS | ENGLAND’S ROLL OF DISHONOUR
1998: After the 1988 Calcutta Cup match against Scotland Dean Richards and John Jeffrey embarked on a drinking session in Edinburgh and eventually ended up using the Cup as a makeshift football, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.
2008: Two days before he was due to make his England debut against Scotland, Danny Cipriani was photographed leaving a nightclub and was axed from the squad for “inappropriate behaviour”.
2008: Topsy Ojo and Mike Brown were fined after being found guilty of misconduct on a tour of New Zealand. They and two other players were at the centre of sex allegations.