Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Inquest begins for RFU

Martin Johnson (left) and Rob Andrew

The Rugby Football Union have launched an investigation into all allegations of player misconduct during England's ill-fated World Cup campaign.

Any player found to have breached the RFU's elite player agreement or their code of conduct could face punishments ranging from a fine to an international suspension, acting chief executive Martyn Thomas announced.

Martin Johnson has been given until Monday week to indicate whether he wants to be considered for re-appointment as England manager.

The investigation will be undertaken over the next two weeks by Karena Vleck, the head of the RFU's legal department, as Twickenham begin to deal with the fall out of England's World Cup failure.

Thomas confirmed Fran Cotton will lead a review of the RFU's elite set-up, including England's record since Johnson was appointed and the current management structure of the national team.

Rob Andrew's position will also come under fresh scrutiny. Andrew announced on Sunday that he had accepted the job as the RFU's new professional game director but that claim was shot down by Thomas.

"It has obviously not been a good World Cup by any standards for us, both on the field and off the field," said Thomas. "I think it is fair to say we are unhappy with what happened on the field. England should deliver better than it has. The off-field performances have been wholly unacceptable.

"I don't want to pre-empt any actions that are taken but on Monday I spoke to Karena Vleck, the legal officer, and she will be investigating all the allegations of misconduct off the field. She will deal with issues in relation to breach of the elite player squad agreement and indeed, in fact, in terms of the code of conduct we put in.

"The appropriate action will be taken against those players."

England's disciplinary issues ranged from a drunken night out in Queenstown to Manu Tuilagi jumping from a ferry into Auckland harbour, for which he was fined £3000 by the RFU.

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