Mike Tindall’s international rugby career took a major blow as he was fined £25,000 and removed from England’s Elite Player Squad. England’s scandal hit World Cup tour has seen a number of players hit with fines and other penalties but it is vice captain Tindall who has been hit the hardest. Losing half of his World Cup payment is punishment enough but his International Career could well be over with his removal from the Elite Squad.
His alleged offence was apparent flirtatious behaviour in a New Zealand bar, with a woman he claimed was simply an old friend. Tindall though appears to have misled the RFU in their investigation into the night’s events and the Union have taken a hard line approach to dealing with the misconduct.
Tindall’s controversial incident was the first of a number to dog England’s campaign and could perhaps be seen as setting the tone for a catastrophic campaign on and off the field. Rob Andrew, head of English Rugby, described Tindall’s actions as reaching “a level of misconduct that was unacceptable in a senior England player”. Andrew went on to explain that the harsh penalty was in keeping with the seriousness of the offence and the scale of the public reaction. However, England Team mate Mark Cueto along with England legends Will Carling and Austin Healey have both come out to defend Tindall, claiming the punishment is “wrong” “a shambles” and “v confusing”.
Whilst this may well be the case Tindall, as a senior member of the touring party should have known better. He has experience of 3 World Cups and having married the Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, over the summer should have known he was a particular target for the press. Whilst the punishment is harsh it is understandable. It is not only as a punishment for his actions but also for his reaction, he set a poor example for the younger players and has been punished accordingly. He has paid the price for neglecting his responsibilities and may now never pull on the white shirt of England again.