England World Cup fallout
Hopley labels leaked reports "an absolute disgrace"
ESPNscrum Staff
November 23, 2011

The chief executive of the Rugby Players' Association Damian Hopley has admitted he is 'devastated' by the reports leaked to a national newspaper on Wednesday.

The Times printed the findings of three reports into England's shameful World Cup appearance - one of which from the RPA - and Hopley has labelled the leak of the reports to the press "an absolute disgrace."

The role of Lewis Moody as skipper came in for criticism in the reports along with Martin Johnson's selection policy and his team of coaches. And following a World Cup campaign laced with ill-discipline, Hopley has spoken of a breach of trust within the Rugby Football Union as a result of the leaked reports.

"I am absolutely devastated that our RPA members' trust has been so publicly betrayed," Hopley said. "Players voluntarily took part in these interviews and gave their honest and frank assessment of England's Rugby World Cup Campaign. The aim was to be completely open and transparent and players should be respected for refusing to shy away from some of the problems encountered.

"Players were critical of themselves, of the coaching team and of the RFU and its leadership. Their determination was for everyone to be accountable and take responsibility for the disappointing showing in the Rugby World Cup. Many comments were understandably robust because they knew England had not performed as they could have and the players are committed to getting things right for the future.

"Our players were assured that their feedback would be totally confidential and yet no sooner has the report been sent to the Board Members than it appears in a national newspaper. If England wants to regain its status as a respected rugby nation, it is imperative that we stop the rot at the top of the game and show some much needed integrity. What example does this set to the game? It is an absolute disgrace.

"It was the lack of faith in the system and process being confidential that saw many players shy away from completing the RFU questionnaires in the first place and, perhaps not surprisingly, their mistrust has been proven to be correct.

"We cannot ignore that once again there has been a serious breach of confidentiality. We are demanding a detailed investigation to track down the source of the leak and deal appropriately with that person. If we are serious about destroying the porous culture in our game, then we need to introduce tougher security measures to weed out these self-serving people once and for all."

And the RFU will launch an investigation of their own into the leaked information. The RFU's chief disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph, will appoint an investigator charged with establishing where the leak originated from and will present his findings within two weeks.

"It is very disappointing that such sensitive information, based on a number of statements by individuals who were promised confidentiality, have been leaked," said Blackett. "We need to find out who and why and we are wasting no time in starting the investigation.

"It is outrageous that individuals find themselves disparaged without the right of reply and this is damaging to the RFU as an organisation. When the report is produced, we will take the necessary action."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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