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Tindall reinstated into England squad
ESPNscrum Staff
November 28, 2011
England centre Mike Tindall runs into space during the Pool B match between against Romania, Otago Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, September 24, 2011
Tindall was hit with a heavy penalty for his off-field exploits during the recent Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
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Mike Tindall has been reinstated to the England elite player squad and has had his fine reduced from £25,000 to £15,000 following an appeal by the player, the Rugby Football Union have announced.

The 33-year-old was fined and dropped from the England squad following an RFU investigation into his conduct during a night out in Queenstown during the World Cup that concluded the player was guilty of "a serious breach of the EPS Code of Conduct". Tindall was among the group of players who went out for drinks after being given the night off and he was captured on CCTV footage from the Altitude Bar in conversation with a woman.

The Gloucester centre, who is married to the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips, later issued an apology for misleading the England management over his movements that night, having initially claimed he did not go on to another bar. The Rugby Players' Association described Tindall's fine, which was handed down by the RFU's professional rugby director Rob Andrew and legal and governance director Karena Vleck, as "extraordinary" and "unprecedented".

Tindall's appeal was heard by the RFU's acting chief executive Martyn Thomas last week and the Union have now revealed that his attempt to overturn the original ruling has been successful to a large extent.

A statement from the RFU read: "Mike Tindall's fine for breaches of the England elite player squad agreement during the 2011 Rugby World Cup has been reduced from £25,000 to £15,000 and he has been reinstated into the England Elite Player Squad.

Regarding Mike Tindall, Martyn Thomas, Acting Chief Executive Officer who heard the appeal, said, "We accept that there were mitigating factors which do not appear to have been taken into account to the extent that they might otherwise have been. These include;

i. Mike did not intentionally mislead the RFU team management when he stated that he could not remember where he was on the night of September 11, and that he was relying on other people's versions of events which were relayed to him

ii. That there was no evidence of any suggestion of sexual impropriety of any nature with the woman in question and we accept the fact that she is a family friend who he has known for a long time

iii. That Mike expressed deep regret during the appeal meeting about his behaviour and that he had apologised to Martin Johnson and the team for the events which unfolded as a consequence

iv. That there was no evidence that Mike had been involved in any incidences in the past which could contribute as aggravating factors.

"Taking all these factors into account we have decided to reduce the fine to £15,000 and reverse the decision to remove Mike from the England Elite Player Squad. It is however important to stress that we believe Mike's behaviour fell way below that to be expected of somebody of his calibre and experience. He exposed himself to a very compromising position and exposed the rest of the team to damaging publicity."

"We are aware that the EPS Squad will be reviewed on January 1, 2012 and wish to make it clear that this decision does not prevent those deciding the composition of the EPS Squad from taking into account this incident when making that decision."

And head of the Rugby Players' Association Damian Hopley welcomed the decision. "Whilst we still believe the fine is excessive and disproportionate to the factual events of that night in Queenstown, we are relieved that Mike has been reinstated into the full England EPS Squad," Hopley's statement read. "We have always maintained that the original judgement was misguided and mishandled and it is our assertion that Mike has been unfairly treated as a scapegoat on this matter.

"The reduction in the fine and reinstatement into the full England EPS Squad confirms this. Our main issue is that this matter should have been dealt with at the time by the relevant senior RFU personnel who were on the ground in New Zealand.

"To have this incident playing out very publically in the media 10 weeks after the event sets a very worrying precedent for future tours, and we will be taking up this matter with the RFU to ensure that these situations are not repeated. The significant reputational damage to all the parties involved in this matter is something that we feel could have been avoided with the appropriate action taken at the time.

"In attempting to move forward from this matter, the RPA totally accepts the need for our members to fully take responsibility for their actions whilst representing both club and country, and there are valuable lessons that have been learnt throughout this RWC campaign.

"By addressing these issues through ongoing education and support, we remain confident that rugby union in England can recover from what have been some of the most damaging months in its history."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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