England World Cup fallout
RFU launches leaked reports investigation
November 23, 2011
Martin Johnson sits alongside Rob Andrew on the day he announced his resignation © Getty Images
The Rugby Football Union has announced that it has launched an investigation into the leaking of three confidential reports into England's controversial and ultimately disappointing World Cup campaign. Detailed contents from the reviews undertaken by the RFU, the Rugby Players' Association and the Aviva Premiership clubs appeared in The Times.
An RFU statement read: "Following today's serious breach of confidentiality regarding Rugby World Cup reports to the Professional Game Board, the Rugby Football Union will investigate fully and, if appropriate, take disciplinary action. The investigation will be carried out expediently by an independent external firm."
The reports contain quotes from RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew and unnamed players which paint the picture of a disunited squad, driven by a lack of trust under the leadership of a management team out of their depth. Some players are accused, both by Andrew and their team-mates, of being more concerned with their earning potential than their rugby.
The RFU's disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett is set to appoint an independent investigator to take charge of the inquiry and deliver his findings within two weeks.
Furious RPA chief executive Damian Hopley described the leaking of the documents, which were never intended for publication, as an "absolute disgrace".
The RPA report includes some damning criticism of England's failings at the World Cup, which Hopley had collected from the players on condition of anonymity. While all the player quotes remain unattributed, Hopley said: "I am absolutely devastated that our RPA members' trust has been so publicly betrayed. Players voluntarily took part in these interviews and gave their honest and frank assessment of England's Rugby World Cup campaign.
"The aim was to be completely open and transparent and players should be respected for refusing to shy away from some of the problems encountered. We are demanding a detailed investigation to track down the source of the leak and deal appropriately with that person.
"Our players were assured that their feedback would be confidential, and yet no sooner has the report been sent to the board members than it appears in a national newspaper."
Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, called on the RFU to reform the way it operates in the light of the reports. "Sport in this country has quite a lot of governance which is stuck in a different era and in rugby's case," he said. "They've not really made the transition from the old amateur game to the professional game."
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