England Rugby Players Wanted Money More than National Honour Reports Say

November 23, 2011

It has been discovered that leaked reports looking at the England rugby team’s disastrous World Cup found some players were more interested in their paycheck than playing for their country.

The reports, published in The Times newspaper, also said players were ill-disciplined and that the coaching policy was unclear during the tournament in New Zealand.

The three confidential reports were compiled by the RFU, the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), who surveyed players anonymously, and the Aviva Premiership clubs.

England reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup where they were beaten by France, equalling their worst ever performance in the competition.

The team’s campaign was dogged by controversy and team manager Martin Johnson is criticised for failing to discipline players following a series of off-field incidents.

One unnamed player is quoted as saying: “He was too loyal and that was his downfall”.

Johnson resigned on November 16 after three-and-a-half years as manager and admitted that incidents off the pitch “didn’t help”.

Mike Tindall, outside center for Gloucester, was fined £25,000 and removed from England’s elite player squad for his conduct relating to a night out in Queenstown.

But perhaps the most damaging incident was Captain Lewis Moody reportedly leading a delegation of senior players to dispute the amount of money the squad were being paid for playing at the World Cup.

The Times quoted RFU director of elite rugby Rob Andrew’s report 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 Times says after the team were knocked out by the French, one player heard another say: “There’s £35,000… down the toilet.”

The reports were never meant to be made public and the RFU has said the leak will hinder the chances of improving the England team.

The Professional Game Board (PGB), which runs elite rugby in England, said it was “disappointing and frustrating”.

The PGB is due to make recommendations based on the reports’ conclusions to the RFU board on November 30.

In a statement Moody said: “Once again it is deeply disappointing to see players’ feedback aimed at improving England rugby, and which we were promised would remain confidential and anonymous, being put in the public domain for political purposes.

“Captaining England was, and remains, the ultimate honour for me and I accepted that honour knowing all the scrutiny that came with it.”

The current predicament has led to the RPA calling for a stricter disciplinary regime within the England squad.

They set out five recommendations: Players must be accountable for their actions – no exceptions, a much stricter regime needs to be enforced from the top down,  senior players should be treated the same as younger players. Exceptions should not be made, A stronger message (be sent) that if you cross the line you will be punished, A clear alcohol policy agreed  and Curfews if required.

The RPA added: “In a culture of honesty and success such as at Leicester Tigers, players need to accept their shortcomings in what has to be seen as a golden opportunity gone begging.”

However the RFU did receive some good news with widening profit margins.

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