Rugby World Cup 2011

Mike Tindall lied about woman

2011-10-02 11:00
Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips

Auckland - England became embroiled in fresh controversy at the World Cup on Sunday as Mike Tindall admitted misleading officials about his night with a mystery woman and three other players were disciplined for harassing a woman in a hotel.

England manager Martin Johnson admitted that Tindall's recollection of events with the woman in Queenstown "was inaccurate" and England have also apologised for an incident at the team's hotel in Dunedin.

The incidents have become an unwelcome distraction in England's World Cup campaign as they prepare for their quarter-final match against France in Auckland next Saturday.

Tindall, newly married to Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, had insisted he returned to the team hotel alone after he was filmed with a woman who was kissing his head in a bar in Queenstown

He later denied accusations by The Mail on Sunday newspaper he had taken the woman to a second bar where they "behaved like a smooching teenage couple."

The Mail said it even received a call from the Queen’s law firm, acting for the Rugby Football Union, saying Tindall had gone straight back to his hotel alone.

But the Gloucester centre was forced to backtrack when photos emerged of the extended raucous night out.

"His recollection on his whereabouts that night was inaccurate and he has issued a statement apologising. He did not mean to mislead anybody," Johnson said.

"The statement said he was inaccurate in his recollection as to his specific whereabouts. He did not mean to mislead anyone "or orchestrate a cover-up. It was just an error on his behalf. He got his recollection of the evening wrong."

Meanwhile, Britain's Sunday Mirror reported on a second embarrassing incident for the team claiming a woman working at the team's hotel in Dunedin was lured to a bedroom by three players "where she was humiliated."

The report said the players, identified as James Haskell, Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton, shouted lewd comments at her and filmed her.

Johnson said he and the players involved had been reprimanded and had apologised to the hotel management and the woman.

"I think if you have seen the (newspaper) article, what they thought was humour has clearly not been taken that way by the girl involved," Johnson said.

"We apologised at the time. They now realise they stepped over the mark and they had no idea how upset she subsequently became.

"I spoke to the hotel manager and apologised to him and his staff, and the guys formally apologised.

"We investigated the fact fully and I have reprimanded them for their behaviour."

Both incidents occured early in the World Cup campaign and Johnson said he was confident there would no further problems as they entered the knock-out stage of the tournament.


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