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Moody hits out at England players' attitude
ESPNscrum Staff
October 30, 2011

Lewis Moody has hit out at some of his former England team-mates for their behaviour and attitude during Rugby World Cup and said he should have banned them all from going out in New Zealand.

England's World Cup campaign, which ended in defeat to France in the quarter finals, was marred by numerous off-field incidents and poor performances on the pitch. The Rugby Football Union are currently conducting a review of the players' conduct during the tournament after a series of incidents, including accusations of a drunken night out in Queenstown and inappropriate comments to a hotel worker.

And while some players have defended their behaviour in New Zealand, Moody - who retired from international rugby after captaining the squad at the World Cup - admitted the experience had been a "disaster" and questioned the attitude and antics of some of the players who "believed they were invincible".

In an extract from his book, Mad Dog: An Englishman, serialised in the Mail On Sunday, Moody wrote: "If I could change one thing, knowing some of the characters we had in that squad, it would be to have banned them from going out at all. It is impossible to say how much impact the off-field stories had on our performances. But clearly they didn't help."

He continued: "To be an international sportsman, you need to be honest. There had been so much good in my career but England's 2011 World Cup campaign was a disaster.

"For many, it will be remembered for the off-field incidents. I maintain that they were blown up and taken out of context but, at the same time, I concede that some of the behaviour was, at best, naive and, at worst, totally unacceptable."

England manager Martin Johnson - who is yet to learn if he will be offered a new contract - and the RFU will be equally concerned by Moody's comments on the overall mindset of the team going into the global showpiece.

"I had been growing concerned about the attitude in the camp, which had become apparent pretty much from the moment we arrived in Auckland," he added. "We were on the other side of the world, a lot of the guys were young, well-known, wealthy and believed they were invincible. I remember thinking that some were not quite in the right mind-set.

"I have to take some responsibility. As captain, it was my watch and I don't think I helped by introducing awards for things like joke of the day, brown-nose of the day and dick of the day. It was designed to inject some fun but instead added to the feeling that everything was being taken too light-heartedly. After a week I canned the awards."

Moody, 33, was present at the night out at the Queenstown bar, which infamously was hosting a 'Mad Midget Weekender', but left early on. Moody claims England had been "too free-spirited" and "got burned" as a result, leading the team to decide at a players' meeting that they needed to be better disciplined.

Despite that, the controversies kept coming, with coaches Dave Alred and Paul Stridgeon suspended for a game after illegally changing balls and centre Manu Tuilagi given a warning by Auckland police for disorderly behaviour after jumping from a ferry as it was about to berth.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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