Rugby World Cup 2011

Cueto slams media coverage

2011-10-03 09:12
Mark Cueto (File)

Auckland - England wing Mark Cueto has attacked the media for the coverage of two salacious incidents involving some of his team-mates at the Rugby World Cup, describing it as disproportionate and denying the players lack discipline off the field.

One day after it was revealed England manager Martin Johnson had reprimanded three of his squad for reportedly making lecherous comments toward a female hotel worker in Dunedin, Cueto said all sense of perspective is lost because the players are living a "goldfish bowl" existence.

"It's probably two things that have happened but they've been reported in the paper every day. So that's down to you guys," Cueto told reporters on Monday at a news conference. "You need to move on and start writing about other stuff. I don't think we're ill-disciplined off the field at all.

"Stop writing about it. It was three weeks ago. The thing with 'Tins,' at the end of the day, we went out, had a few drinks, had a few days off and the story ran for three weeks in the press. Fair enough it's a big deal. Maybe (run the story) once or twice, two days later. But you ran the story for 10 days - it's horrendous. Give the guy a break. We're here to play rugby."

Tindall was captured on security footage holding a blonde woman's hand and receiving a kiss on top of his head at a Queenstown bar in mid-September. That made front-page news because the 2003 World Cup-winning centre married Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter, in August.

The story has again resurfaced because queries are being raised over Tindall's initial denial he didn't go to a second bar with the woman.

"A story that (should) probably have been in the paper once has been in the paper a million times," Cueto said. "It's not like something's happening every day we go out. The two instances we're talking about were at the start of the tour. Obviously since then there's been nothing else for you guys to write about, so you've been focusing on that.

"The 'Tins' thing, we're talking about a couple of guys going out for a few beers. That is bottom line what happened. What's wrong with that? We've just played a game against Argentina. It was a massive game that we won. Our lads have got two or three days off, we've had a few beers. If we were in England, nothing would have been said about it. But because we're in New Zealand, nobody's done anything wrong but it gets talked about in the press for a week. If the boys can't go out and have a couple of beers then it's a sad world that we live in."

Some teams impose alcohol bans during the World Cup, a tournament that is held once every four years. England manager Martin Johnson, captain of the winning team in 2003, has said he believes his players are mature enough to make their own decisions on what is acceptable during the Cup.

England backrower James Haskell, hooker Dylan Hartley and winger Chris Ashton were disciplined and forced to apologize to Dunedin hotel worker Annabel Newton after an incident on Sept. 9 when she went to one of the player's rooms to retrieve some hotel equipment and was subjected to some sexist, crude treatment.

Newton was quoted as saying the players "treated me with no respect" in a British tabloid newspaper on Sunday, hours after England advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals to play France on Saturday at Eden Park with a comeback 16-12 win over Scotland.

"I was angry with them," Johnson said Sunday. "What they thought was humor and a light-hearted exchange has clearly not been taken that way by Annabel, the girl involved. The guys formally apologized. They were shocked when they understood how upset she had become. We investigated the facts fully. They have been disciplined. They have been reprimanded for their behavior and left in no doubt."

The England team was embroiled in a sex scandal on the 2008 tour to New Zealand involving four of its players, two of whom received fines for minor discipline breaches. But the Rugby Football Union later imposed a stringent new code of conduct to deal with similar behavior.

Cueto has been to New Zealand with England and the British and Irish Lions but says rugby's showpiece "is a totally different kettle of fish."

"It's a bit of a reality check that such a small thing can be made into such a massive deal," he said. "Because of that, as a group of players we've spoken about it with management; and as a group of players, ourselves, without management. We know exactly where we're at and there'll be no more stories to come out."


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