Rugby World Cup 2011

Tindall 'groped' a blonde

2011-09-15 07:50
Mike Tindall (AFP)

Queenstown - England chiefs defended centre Mike Tindall following allegations he'd behaved inappropriately on a night out during the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, saying he was just "relaxing".

The UK Sun tabloid reported on Thursday that Tindall, who recently married Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, had "kissed and groped" a blonde while watching a dwarf-throwing contest.

It further alleged he'd buried his head in her breasts as England enjoyed a night out in a Queenstown bar after a victory over Argentina in their opening World Cup match.

However, an England spokesperson, in a Rugby Football Union statement issued on Thursday, insisted there was nothing untoward about the conduct of Tindall, England's captain against the Pumas.

"Mike and several of the players were enjoying an evening out after he had led the team to a hard-earned victory over Argentina," the spokesperson said.

"Like all the lads he plays for England with a massive amount of passion and he was relaxing after a tough match."

The RFU statement added there would be no further comment.

Before England left for the World Cup, team manager Martin Johnson announced he would not be imposing drinking bans on his players.

"When I started playing rugby at senior level you were dealing with blokes," Johnson said last month.

"They treated us like adults and there is no reason to change that now they are professionals and things are far more organized in the game.

"They are there to make sensible decisions - if I can't trust them, there is a simple choice for us to make."

Four players, none of whom are in the World Cup squad, found themselves caught up in a sex scandal during England's ill-fated tour of New Zealand in 2008 and Johnson also said last month he'd repeatedly reminded his team about the need to avoid compromising situations.

"You have got to be careful - it is a different world to what it was.

"I remember going there (New Zealand) 18 years ago as a British Lion and the boys had good fun but you have got to be careful."

Tindall, 33 next month, is one of the most experienced players in England's squad, having been a member of the team that won the 2003 World Cup when Johnson was captain.

The Gloucester midfielder has been capped 73 times by England and led the side in their 13-9 win over Argentina in the absence of injured squad skipper Lewis Moody.

England continue their Pool B campaign against Georgia in Dunedin on Sunday.


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