Care axed from Six Nations plans
January 4, 2012
Quins scrum-half Danny Care missed the World Cup with a foot injury © Getty Images
Harlequins' scrum-half Danny Care will not be considered for England's Six Nations campaign after failing a drink driving test in the early hours of New Year's Day - his second drink-related incident within the last month.
The in-form Care, who missed the Rugby World Cup with a foot injury, looked set to be named in Lancaster's 32-man squad for the Six Nations on January 11 despite having been arrested for being drunk and disorderly on December 10. But England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has decided to crack down in bid to avoid the further criticism in the wake of England's scandal-hit World Cup campaign.
The 25-year-old was subsequently handed an undisclosed fine by Quins but remained a key contender for the England No.9 shirt alongside Leicester's Ben Youngs. However, Lancaster has opted to discard him from his plans having labelled his most recent behaviour as "completely unacceptable".
On New Year's Eve, hours before his arrest, Care tweeted: "2012 is hopefully going to be a massive year...Earn respect. Earn the shirt. Set the example." But he has now been forced to issue a humble apology.
"I do accept that I made a very bad decision on the evening in question and need to take the punishment that the courts hand out," Care said in a statement. "I have decided not to contest the charge as I want to bring this to a close swiftly rather than have it hanging over my head for a year or more. I would stress though that at no time did I think I had drunk enough to be over the legal limit. However, I should not have got into the car and have to accept the consequences of that action.
Care has also be fined £10,000 by Harlequins and will be required to work on the club's inner city coaching programme until end of pre-season 2012-13. The club have also vowed to work with the Rugby Players' Association to ensure Care is given the necessary support and education around alcohol awareness.
Lancaster: Care ban sends right message%]
"I am devastated not to be selected for the Elite Player Squad for the Six Nations as I felt I had been playing near the top of my game with Quins," added Care. "However, I wish the team, and the other number 9s who come in to play, the best of luck as playing for your country is the highest honour in the game and I will miss it hugely. It's now up to me to get my head down, keep playing well and learn from my actions.
"Quins and Stuart have been very supportive and I totally accept their sanctions. I do understand the need for England players to be role models in the game and have tried to live up to that at all times, but have made a couple of stupid decisions in the past weeks. I can only hope for the chance in the future to prove those decisions were the exception not the rule. I am devastated because my actions have let so many people down."
Care grabbed a try in Quins' narrow 11-9 Aviva Premiership victory over Exeter on New Year's Eve before returning to London. The Daily Telegrpah reports that he had a few drinks at a local pub and returned to the house he shares with Harlequins team-mates, fly-half, Rory Clegg and centre, Jordan Turner-Hall.
A phone call from a former girlfriend in the early hours led to Care getting in his car and driving to his friend's house. He was stopped en route. It is believed that he was twice the legal limit permitted for alcohol in the bloodstream with his case scheduled to be heard on Jan 16.
Lancaster said: "I have met Danny and told him that he will not be considered for selection for the Senior or Saxons Elite Player Squads that are due to be announced on the January 11 for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign.
"This is his second arrest in three weeks for alcohol related offences and it is completely unacceptable. We will monitor his progress from this event through Harlequins and we have every confidence in the club to support him in the right way. At such a time that we feel he can be trusted to behave appropriately on and off the field then he will be reconsidered for selection, but this will not be until the conclusion of the Six Nations as a minimum.
"It's not a decision I've taken lightly but I think it's the correct decision and I think it's the correct decision for Danny. It was unacceptable. He understands that and, ultimately for me, it was a difficult and right decision. It's a strong message but it's the right message. Ultimately all players need to understand they are responsible adults and there are behaviours that go with that.
"When I spoke to Danny he's hurting a lot at the moment and I know him well enough to know that he will never make this mistake again. He's made a poor error of judgment and he has to face the consequences."
Quins' director of rugby Conor O'Shea also slammed Care's reckless behaviour. "Danny's actions are inexcusable and we are all deeply disappointed and feel let down," he said. "Danny has made a huge error of judgement, but knows what he did is wrong and has accepted the responsibility of his actions."
England now face a selection dilemma at scrum-half with Youngs' deputy at the World Cup, Saracens' Richard Wigglesworth, sidelined through injury while Wasps' Joe Simpson won his first cap during the tournament in New Zealand.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown