Rugby World Cup: English clubs apologise for conduct

England's Courtney Lawes. Photo / Richard Robinson
England's Courtney Lawes. Photo / Richard Robinson

Representatives of England's elite clubs have apologised to New Zealand officials on behalf of English rugby for the disciplinary problems which marred their World Cup.

According to a report in London's Daily Mail, Quentin Smith, chairman of Premiership Rugby Ltd, revealed that he and the organisation's chief executive Mark McCafferty felt obliged to say sorry to the host nation "in the absence of any contrition" from the Rugby Football Union, England's controlling body.

Explaining the attempt to show some belated English remorse, Smith said: "Mark and I found the opportunity to apologise to the All Blacks, to the management, the chairman and chief executive in the absence of any contrition [from the RFU]. It is not our team, we are here as representatives of the Premiership and all the players, but we felt embarrassed that there hadn't been an acknowledgement that the event had been tarnished by bad behaviour."

The clubs also argue that England's off-field turmoil is "inseparable" from the disappointing performances on it and ensured "the worst possible backdrop" to their World Cup campaign, which suffered a further indignity when Courtney Lawes became the third member of the squad to be fined for wearing a branded mouthguard during the tournament.

* However, Kiwis are under the cosh from the Fiji Rugby Union, which will make an announcement next week on the future of coach Sam Domoni after completing its investigation into their poor performances at the World Cup.

FRU board members have spent more than two days interviewing players and members of the extensive coaching and management team that accompanied Fiji to the tournament in New Zealand. Its first step will be to rule on the future of Domoni, whose contract ends after the RWC, according to Planet Rugby sources.

Local media has reported that Fiji's overseas-based players and foreign coaches are likely to bear much of the blame for the team's failure. FijiVillage website reported that the investigation found the overseas-based players refused to listen to management, obey instructions or "give their heart for their nation."

It said the Australians and New Zealanders involved with the team's coaching group "played a major role in the downfall of the team" by suppressing the flair which is part of their natural game.

* The break-up of the 2011 Springbok RWC team continues apace with reports that Springbok and Stormers centre Jaque Fourie is in talks with top Japanese team Kobe Steelers. Fourie could join Bok team-mates Fourie du Preez and Danie Rossouw in Japan. The Bulls duo have signed for Suntory Sungoliath for the next two years.

Western Province CEO Rob Wagner confirmed earlier this week that Fourie had been speaking to Japanese clubs. Springbok wing Bryan Habana is another player who could be leaving South Africa. South Africa's top try-scorer has also been linked to the Steelers in Japan, but appears to be "just in talks" for the moment and may show his loyalty to Western Province by renewing his contract.

- Herald on Sunday

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