English Rugby
RFU laid on free bar during RWC
ESPNscrum Staff
November 15, 2011

The England players' infamous night out in Queenstown was part-funded for by the Rugby Football Union, it has been reported.

The Daily Mail has said that England's operations manager Tom Stokes sent out an e-mail to the rugby team which said that "an area (of a) bar/pub in town called Pub on the Wharf from 19.30" had been reserved. And it was added that "yes, there is a tab" while the e-mail also confirmed that food would be laid on at the hotel half an hour previous. While the newspaper reports that the majority of players left after three or four hours to return to the hotel, a few of the England team went onto the Altitude Bar in Queenstown.

Mike Tindall was at the centre of a media storm as a result of the infamous night and was last week hit with a £25,000 fine and kicked out of the England Elite Player Squad following what Rob Andrew, the RFU's professional rugby director, labelled: "misconduct that was unacceptable in a senior England player and amounted to a very serious breach of the EPS Code of Conduct."

It is understood the size of the fine takes into account the legal costs incurred by the RFU as they tried to manage the fall-out from the incident. The England centre will appeal the decision though no date for the hearing has yet been confirmed.

England travelled to Queenstown the day after Tindall had captained them to a hard-fought victory over the Pumas in their opening World Cup group game. The squad had been given that night and the following day off by the England management.

England manager Martin Johnson defended the decision to allow his players to go out, saying at the time: "Rugby player drinks beer, shocker". Johnson also stood up for Tindall when it emerged his former team-mate had not returned to the team hotel immediately after leaving Altitude but moved on to another bar.

The Queenstown night is sure to feature heavily in Thursday's Professional Game Board meeting, where England's failed World Cup campaign will be reviewed heavily. Andrew will present his findings - although his own role in the England structure will come under scrutiny.

The Rugby Players' Association and the Premiership clubs will present their own reviews, from which a number of recommendations will be formulated and put to the RFU board on November 30.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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