England Disciplinary Report - The Key Points
July 10, 2008
The Rugby Football Union today published their report into alleged misconduct during England's recent tour to New Zealand.
The investigation, carried out by chief disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett, made several key points:
* Mike Brown: Reprimanded and fined £1000 for staying out all night during an England tour and subsequently being late for a physiotherapist appointment. Warned in future not to put himself in any compromising situation that may bring the game into disrepute.
* Topsy Ojo: Reprimanded and fined £500 for staying out all night during an England tour. Warned in future not to put himself in any compromising situation that may bring the game into disrepute.
* David Strettle: Not guilty of any misconduct and not one of the four players to which the New Zealand police wished to speak. But warned in future not to put himself in any compromising situation that may bring the game into disrepute following publication of a kiss and tell story.
* Danny Care: Not guilty of any misconduct. Did not drink excessively nor miss any team appointment. No evidence that he was named or identified by the complainant or that he committed any criminal act.
* Complainant signed a declaration that she wished to assist Blackett's investigation by making available the police 'Job Sheet' (a contemporaneous or near contemporaneous summary of their interview with her in the evening of 15 June) and a copy of that 'Job Sheet' with personal details redacted. Prior to completing the declaration the complainant read the players' version of events as recorded in an e-mail from Blackett to her solicitors and she reconfirmed her version as outlined in the Job Sheet.
* Complainant given the opportunity to provide evidence to the investigation by video conference, having first being warned that if she did so lawyers representing the players would cross examine her, or by written statement. She indicated that she did not wish to subject herself to cross examination.
* Blackett found independent evidence provided by witnesses unconnected with the allegations corroborated much of the players' own evidence.
* Blackett found insufficient credible evidence of any illegal activity between any of the players and the complainant ''which would enable me to conclude that what she says occurred actually happened''.
* Players have had to endure public vilification in a case which increasingly seemed to become a trial by media without having the opportunity to clear their names of any wrongdoing. This placed them in an intolerable position with the allegations remaining unchallenged.
* Unfair to blame the management for perceived misconduct, although in retrospect it may have been prudent for them to have repeatedly reminded the players that they would be in the media spotlight and must therefore be on their guard at all times.
* Players entitled to some relaxation post match whereby they could let off steam away from public scrutiny.
* With the status of an England player comes the obligation to act even more carefully than other members of the public and not to put themselves in positions where their integrity may be compromised.
* Players must constantly remind themselves they now have high public profiles and there will be those, particularly in the tabloid press, who will actively seek stories about their personal lives.
* A prohibition on taking young unknown female guests back to the team hotel should become part of any new code of conduct.
* Tighter rein needed on players when they are on England duty and they must to be given clear guidelines about the limits of acceptable behaviour. This is most important in relation to very young players who do not yet have the life skills to cope with sudden stardom. Future code of conduct should also set limits on alcohol consumption.
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