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Daughter of former Ireland captain slams ‘rude’ England rugby players

Heather White
Heather White
Heather's father Jack Siggins
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

The daughter of a former Ireland rugby captain has hit out at the "rudeness" of the England team after losing the World Cup final to South Africa on Saturday.

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Eddie Jones' men faced criticism for taking off their runner-up medals immediately after receiving them in Japan.

Heather White from Tandragee in Co Armagh is the daughter of Jack Siggins.

The former Methodist College Belfast pupil and Collegians player captained Ireland in the 1930s and later managed the British and Irish Lions for their tour of South Africa in 1955.

In a letter published in the Daily Telegraph, Mrs White said she was "appalled by their lack of manners and sportsmanship in front of Japan, which is known as one of the world's politest nations".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, she said the England side were setting a bad example for the next generation of players.

"I know my father would have been very annoyed to see anyone who plays rugby behave like that," she said.

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"When he was out managing the Lions in South Africa, they were very good and loyal men who were well behaved.

"Daddy just loved their company. He came back with a great respect for the game in South Africa and he was actually asked to open a stadium.

"You're not asked to do those things if you don't behave impeccably, that was very important to my father both on and off the field."

She added: "I don't make a habit of writing letters like this but I just felt in that moment it was so unsporting.

"The thing is that the world currently thinks the UK is full of plonkers. We've had three-and-a-half years of washing our dirty linen in public over Brexit, of shouting and ranting and raving.

"Then you get an English team who go off and do something like that.

"The game has progressed a lot but the standard must be maintained. If you're representing your country it's very important that you behave and remember that you're an ambassador." Mrs White praised the New Zealand side for their conduct while receiving their bronze medal on Friday after defeating Wales in the third/fourth place match

"Like the South Africans, they stopped and shook hands, they smiled and made sure the medal was properly centred around their neck," she said. "They were only getting the bronze place and so, for England, a silver medal is still a silver medal whether you like it or not.

"I just felt it was inappropriate. My son did play rugby and now my 11-year-old granddaughter who lives in England is actually playing herself. I think it's particularly important for young players like her to see good behaviour."

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