England drop Tindall

2011-11-11 14:15

London - Mike Tindall was on Friday fined £25 000 and booted out of the England rugby union squad following his off-field antics during the World Cup, the Rugby Football Union announced.

Flanker James Haskell and winger Chris Ashton were also given £5 000 suspended fines for their actions in a separate incident, while hooker Dylan Hartley was cleared.

England endured a shambolic World Cup campaign in New Zealand, a quarter-final exit overshadowed by numerous lurid tales about poor off-field behaviour.

The most high-profile concerned an evening visit to a Queenstown bar that made headlines because of security footage showing Tindall, recently married to the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips, in conversation with a woman.

"Mike Tindall has been removed from the England Elite Player Squad with immediate effect and fined £25 000 for his conduct around the events that took place in Queenstown on the night of Sunday, September 11, 2011," the RFU said in a statement.

Rob Andrew, the RFU's Professional Rugby Director, added: "We have considered all the evidence carefully and interviewed the players at length. These actions have not been taken lightly but we believe that in all these cases the sanctions are commensurate with the level of seriousness of what occurred.

"Mike Tindall's actions reached a level of misconduct that was unacceptable in a senior England player and amounted to a very serious breach of the EPS (Elite Player Squad) Code of Conduct. Whilst we acknowledge his previous good character it needs to be made clear that what he did will not be tolerated."

Haskell and Ashton, whose fines were suspended until December 31, 2012, were sanctioned for inappropriate conduct towards a member of hotel staff in Dunedin.

"Regarding the events in Dunedin, it should be stressed that the allegations of very serious wrong-doing made against Chris Ashton, Dylan Hartley and James Haskell by Annabel Newton, a member of staff at the team hotel, were entirely false," admitted Andrew.

"We do not believe the players had any intention to sexually harass or intimidate Ms Newton.

"However, the incident is precisely the kind of dangerous, compromising situation the players were warned about prior to departure for New Zealand and that they were specifically told to avoid in the EPS Code of Conduct.

"While we found that Dylan Hartley played no part in the ill-considered exchange with Annabel Newton, Chris Ashton and James Haskell's behaviour on September 9 did breach the EPS Code of Conduct and they have each been given suspended fines of 5,000."

Andrew added: "Finally, these episodes and the subsequent disciplinary action should stand as a strong reminder that the highest standards of personal conduct are expected from any England player on and off the field."

The players have three days in which to appeal.