England vow to repair battered reputation
January 5, 2012
England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster is determined to re-build England's reputation © Getty Images
England's new coaching team have vowed to re-build the side's battered reputation and re-connect with the sport's grassroots.
Interim head coach Stuart Lancaster offered a statement of intent yesterday by dropping Quins scrum-half Danny Care from his plans for the Six Nations following his arrest for drink driving in the early hours of New Year's Day, three weeks after he was fined by police for being drunk and disorderly.
Lancaster, having reprimanded Care last month, told him his actions were "completely unacceptable" and that he would not be considered by England until he could be trusted again - a sentiment echoed by his assistant Graham Rowntree who said: "You just can't do it as a leading professional sportsman. We are at the start of a new campaign. We can't tolerate it and that is why we have taken the stance we have."
The coaching trio of Lancaster, Rowntree and Andy Farrell face a battle to restore England's image after a Rugby World Cup campaign blighted by off-field scandals and they have taken their first steps towards that goal by moving their pre-Six Nations training camp from their usual luxurious resort in Portugal to the home of Yorkshire League Two club West Park Leeds where they will be based for a week from January 23.
The squad will have curfews imposed and limits placed on their drinking, they will take part in community work and special guest speakers will be brought in to remind the players what it means to represent England.
"We have a situation where the reputation of young players in the country isn't great," Lancaster said. "I think there is a perception out there and I know the players well enough to know they won't enjoy that perception. That's part of the reason we are going to a camp at a Yorkshire Two club.
"They want to help redress it and by doing some community work while we're there, doing some work with coaches from around the area. We are trying to make sure that people from grassroots level feel a connection with the England team again.
"When Graham and I turn up to our local junior club on a Sunday morning with our kids and we go in the clubhouse, we want them to think that the England team is a team they can associate with and be proud of.
"We want the behaviour of an England player to be responsible and professional, and players should have a good attitude," Lancaster said.
Rowntree, the only England coach to survive the World Cup campaign and the poisonous fall-out, pointed towards a stricter regime as they look to develop the right culture on the squad. "We want the lads to go out and relax. We will have a meal out but there have got to be limits of when they have got to come home, when they have got to stop drinking," Rowntree said.
"We have to be tighter on those guidelines and the expectations of an England rugby player, the responsibilities of an England rugby player. We have got to tighten those things up."
Lancaster is due to name his Six Nations squad on January 11.
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