Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Premiership officials criticise RFU

Premiership Rugby executives felt compelled to apologise to the New Zealand Rugby Union for the behaviour of the England team during the World Cup "in the absence of any contrition" from Twickenham.

England's ill-fated campaign was dogged by off-field controversies ranging from a drunken night out in Queenstown to Manu Tuilagi being detained by police for jumping off a ferry into Auckland Harbour.

Three players were forced to apologise to a member of their hotel staff in Dunedin while the Rugby Football Union expect to receive a letter of complaint from Land Rover in relation to an incident on a sponsor's day.

On the field, coaches Dave Alred and Paul Stridgeon were banned for one match after illegally switching the balls during England's pool match against Romania.

The RFU's legal officer Karena Vleck will investigate all allegations of player misconduct during the tournament, which ended last weekend with a 19-12 quarter-final defeat to France.

Premiership Rugby chairman Quentin Smith, who is in New Zealand with chief executive Mark McCafferty, said: "They have performed badly on and off the field as a representative body in the eyes of the International Rugby Board and in the eyes of the host nation.

"Mark and I found the opportunity to apologise to the All Blacks, to the management, the chairman and chief executive in the absence of any contrition.

"It is not our team, we are here as representatives of the Premiership and all the players but we felt embarrassed there hadn't been an acknowledgement that the event had been tarnished by bad behaviour.

"They thanked us. It was not a big statement. It doesn't have to be very much but it has to demonstrate acknowledgement of what has gone on - not the 'we'll sort it out when we get home' and 'hey, rugby players go out for a drink'."


From Belfast Telegraph