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Tindall fined and kicked out of England squad
ESPNscrum Staff
November 11, 2011

England veteran Mike Tindall's 11-year international career appears to be over after he was removed from the elite player squad and fined £25,000 as punishment for his off-field antics in Queenstown during the recent Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The 33-year-old, who married the Queen's grand-daughter, Zara Phillips, earlier this year, was the subject of a media frenzy last month after he was pictured allegedly flirting with a woman in a Queenstown nightclub during a "boozy night off" from his side's troubled World Cup campaign. English rugby chiefs refused to criticise the actions of the player at the time and stressed he was celebrating his side's opening 13-9 victory over Argentina along with team-mates but Tindall later admitted misleading England management about events during the evening.

The 75-cap veteran, who has captained his country and shared in England's World Cup success in 2003, missed his side's next game but returned for the rest of the campaign that ended with a quarter-final defeat to France.

Later in the ill-fated trip, England manager Martin Johnson had to reprimand three players - flanker James Haskell, winger Chris Ashton and hooker Dylan Hartley - for making inappropriate comments to a female hotel worker during the side's stay in Dunedin. The trio were forced to formally apologise and Haskell and Ashton have today been handed suspended fines of £5,000 and warned about their future conduct.

The sanctions were handed down after the players appeared before the RFU's professional rugby director Rob Andrew and legal and governance director Karena Vleck at Twickenham.

Andrew said: "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 Code of Conduct. Whilst we acknowledge his previous good character it needs to be made clear that what he did will not be tolerated.

"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. 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. If they commit any further breaches of the Code before December 31, 2012 the fines will become due.

"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 the right to appeal within three working days from today.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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