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RFU to investigate player incidents

The Rugby Football Union has 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.

The investigation will be undertaken over the next two weeks by Karena Vleck, the head of the RFU's legal department.

Thomas said: "Under the terms of the elite player squad agreement they can be fined in relation to their match fees, they can be fined or cautioned in relation to breaches of the player code of conduct. It is open to discussions with Rob Andrew and the England team manager that they would not be available to England going forward as a fairly significant sanction."

England's World Cup campaign was dogged by controversy, which continued after they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by France. Manu Tuilagi was detained by police on Sunday and fined £3,000 by the RFU for jumping off a ferry into Auckland harbour.

The off-field conduct of some England squad members had been in the spotlight since a group of players enjoyed a night out drinking in Queenstown.

England manager Johnson had given the players permission to go out and some ended up in a backpackers' bar which was staging a dwarf-racing competition.

Mike Tindall was captured on CCTV footage from the Altitude Bar in conversation with a woman, who is reported to have been an old flame. Tindall later apologised for mistakenly misleading the England management over his movements that night, having initially claimed he did not go on to another bar after Altitude.

Johnson also confirmed during the tournament that he had reprimanded James Haskell, Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton for a reported incident with a female member of staff in their Dunedin hotel.

Thomas said that Johnson had been "let down by a number of the players", particularly given the warnings that had been made before England left for the tournament.

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