RFU probe leaked reports
London - The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has launched a probe into who leaked reports into the country's Rugby World Cup campaign that painted a damning portrait of an ill-disciplined, divided squad obsessed with making money.
Detailed contents from the reviews undertaken by the RFU, the Rugby Players' Association and the Aviva Premiership clubs appeared across eight pages in The Times.
The reports contain quotes from RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew and unnamed players which paint the picture of a disunited squad, riven by a lack of trust under the leadership of a management team out of their depth.
Some players are accused, both by Andrew and their team-mates, of being more concerned with their earning potential than their rugby.
The RFU's disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett is set to appoint an independent investigator to take charge of the inquiry and deliver his findings within two weeks.
An RFU statement read: "Following today's serious breach of confidentiality regarding Rugby World Cup reports to the Professional Game Board, the Rugby Football Union will investigate fully and, if appropriate, take disciplinary action.
"The investigation will be carried out expediently by an independent external firm."
Furious RPA chief executive Damian Hopley described the leaking of the documents, which were never intended for publication, as an "absolute disgrace".
The RPA report includes some damning criticism of England's failings at the World Cup, which Hopley had collected from the players on condition of anonymity.
While all the player quotes remain unattributed, Hopley said: "I am absolutely devastated that our RPA members' trust has been so publicly betrayed.
"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 (Professional Game) 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."