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England players more interested in money, says report

By Alex Lowe

A number of England's World Cup players were “more focused on money than getting the rugby right”, it was reported today in three leaked reports that lay bare the inside story behind the shambles in New Zealand.

A newspaper today published details of the confidential reports compiled by the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Players' Association, who surveyed players anonymously, and the Aviva Premiership clubs.

As well as a number of players concerned about money, the coaching regime also came in for strong criticism.

England were beaten by France in the quarter-finals, equalling their worst ever performance in a World Cup after a campaign dogged by controversy.

Team manager Martin Johnson is reportedly criticised for failing to instil discipline following a series of off-field incidents, with one unnamed player quoted as saying “he was too loyal and that was his downfall”.

Captain Lewis Moody is criticised for reportedly leading a delegation of senior players to dispute the amount of money the squad were being paid for playing at the World Cup.

RFU director of elite rugby Rob Andrew is quoted as saying: “It was very disappointing that a senior group, led by the captain Lewis Moody, disputed the level of payment for the World Cup squad.

“It led to meetings with RFU executives in the last few weeks before departing for NZ. This led to further unsettling of the squad. Some of the senior players were more focused on money rather than getting the rugby right,.”

The leaked reports were never intended to be published. The Professional Game Board, which runs elite rugby in England, are due to make recommendations based on the conclusions to the RFU board on November 30.

England's World Cup was dogged by incident from the start, with widespread media coverage of a players' night out following a meagre win over Argentina in their opening match.

Mike Tindall, married to Zara Phillips was pictured talking to a woman on CCTV footage from Altitude Bar, which was holding a “Mad Midget Weekender” and was one of a number of squad members who appeared to have drank excessively. His actions later incurred a £25,000 fine and saw him dismissed from the squad.

The RFU then suspended assistant coach Dave Alred and fitness coach Paul Stridgeon after the pair were found to have illegally changed balls during the victory against Romania.

Chris Ashton and James Haskell were fined £5,000 for their conduct towards a hotel maid and Manu Tuilagi received two fines — the first for wearing a sponsored mouthguard and the second for diving off a harboured ferry.

Meanwhile,former Ireland a coach Eddie O'Sullivan is interested in replacing Johnson as England manager.

O'Sullivan’s agent, John Baker said: “Eddie's big advantage is that he has tremendous experience of the Six Nations and a fantastic track record in that competition.”

New Zealand's World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry yesterday ruled himself out.

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