Phillips suspended from Wales squad
June 17, 2011
Phillips has been suspended due to a "clear breach of standards" © Getty Images
Scrum-half Mike Phillips has been suspended indefinitely from Wales squad duties with immediate effect, the Welsh Rugby Union have announced.
The 28-year-old British & Irish Lions international, who recently agreed a switch from the Ospreys to French Top 14 side Bayonne, has been banned following an alleged late-night incident in Cardiff city centre earlier this week that has been labelled as a "clear breach in standards" by the WRU.
The suspension has been endorsed by Wales coach Warren Gatland and Phillips has been told not to report to WRU headquarters at the National Centre of Excellence this Monday - the pre-ordained start date of his personal training regime - and will remain outside of the squad until further notice.
"The Wales management team will take time to consider circumstances surrounding recent allegations about the player's behaviour in public whilst on an agreed holiday period from pre-Rugby World Cup training," the WRU said in a statement.
"The WRU operates to its own strict code of conduct covering behaviour both on and off the field, in circumstances of serious indiscipline the national squad management have the capacity to impose sanctions on players for matters arising from occasions when they are not on official squad duty. Whilst the suspension is in operation further clarification regarding the incident will be sought."
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis explained the WRU's action, commenting: "The player has been suspended due to a clear breach of the standards which we expect to be maintained by someone involved in one of our national squads.
"Discipline and acceptable behaviour are issues which run to the core values of the Welsh Rugby Union and we cannot tolerate any compromise of those standards. Mike Phillips is an exceptional player, but there is irrefutable evidence of a prima facie nature that he was engaged in behaviour which falls below the standards we set."
Phillips was pictured being restrained by bouncers outside a Cardiff restaurant in the early hours of Tuesday morning and the WRU immediately vowed to investigate. The Union are not aware of any criminal charges pending but this is not the first time Phillips' off-field behaviour has hit the headlines.
In 2008, the former Llanelli Scarlets and Cardiff Blues scrum-half was hospitalised after being attacked outside a Cardiff nightclub and the following year he was bailed by police after being arrested in the Welsh capital following an alleged bust-up with a taxi driver.
"It is vitally important that we send out a clear and unambiguous message to one and all concerning our views on matters of this sort," added Lewis. "That message must be heard clearly by all players, coaches, administrators, volunteers, supporters and, of course, the parents and guardians of any child attracted to take part in the national sport of Wales.
"By taking decisive action now we are emphasising that this sort of incident is highly unusual in that the majority of people involved in Welsh rugby help us maintain the proud record we have for fair play and off the field courtesy. Our senior national squad players are highly visible because of the profile which accompanies the success of our national sport and it is made clear to them that they are the ambassadors we rely on to foster and sustain our image.
"An incredible amount of hard work is currently taking place as our players prepare for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and that effort must be recognised and supported by all involved. I am making my views public at this time because, as the nation anticipates our involvement in Rugby World Cup there is no room for any ambiguity in our reasoning. Rugby is part of the culture of our nation and we must do all in our power to ensure that the game remains a sport that everyone in Wales can be rightly proud of."
Wales team manager Alan Phillips said: "We have suspended Mike Phillips on the clear evidence of a level of behaviour we regard as unacceptable. It is clear there has been a breach of our disciplinary standards."
Cardiff Blues scrum-half Lloyd Williams has been called into the Wales pre-World Cup training squad and will report for duty on Monday.
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