Hopley: Bosses should take more blame

Players’ chief Damian Hopley today insisted England’s management must shoulder greater responsibility for events on the disastrous tour to New Zealand.

But Hopley is convinced the presence of Martin Johnson, who officially began his reign as England manager last week, will prevent any future indiscretions.

The Rugby Football Union’s investigation of events in Auckland on June 14 found no evidence to support sex allegations which were denied by the players.

But Mike Brown and Topsy Ojo were fined and reprimanded for staying out all night, with the former also carpeted for arriving late for a physiotherapist appointment.

Jeff Blackett, the RFU’s chief disciplinary officer who led the investigation, absolved the management of blame for the incident and branded media criticism to the contrary as unfair.

But Hopley was unsatisfied with the way the players were forced to bare the brunt of the subsequent fallout.

“The players have received a strong warning from Judge Blackett, but the management of the tour must accept responsibility too,” he said.

“There was a huge fuss about players drinking after the game but let’s be very clear on this - there was no code of conduct implemented for the tour. There were no rules in place.

“For all the headlines swirling around about the players and their punishment, you can’t isolate them from the management.

“I have no doubt the correct procedures will be put in place under Martin Johnson. His personality means he’ll make quite an impact on the England team.”

One of the most pressing issues facing Johnson is to draw up a new code of conduct - a process that will involve Hopley.

Blackett recommended in his 7,000-word report that limits be placed on alcohol consumption and urged a ban on taking women back to the team hotel.

Both topics will be up for discussion when the new rules are thrashed out and Hopley admitted England players have a duty to conduct themselves in a certain manner.

“We desperately need a new code of conduct because the original one was Victorian in its outlook,” he said.

“It’s not about being told what to do, it’s about adopting a new culture. It’s similar to what Sir Clive Woodward had in place when he was England head coach.

“High-profile sportsmen playing for their country have an obligation to behave in a certain way.”

Hopley claimed coverage of the allegations had damaged the relationship between players and the rugby media but conceded it was a reflection of the sport’s growing popularity.

“In a way we’re victims of our own success because you only have to look at where world rugby has gone since 2003 to see how big the profile is. Players are now fair game,” he said.

The former England winger was pleased with Blackett’s findings, which he hopes has permanently silenced speculation.

“It’s a great relief that we can move on from what has been a very difficult time for these young players,” he said.

“The players have been stranded in no man’s land because there was no formal complaint.

“The allegations were unsubstantiated and because of legal advice the players were unable to come out and clear their names.

“This has to be the end of the ordeal for them - there can be no hangover from this.

“Even though the players have done nothing wrong, we have all learnt valuable lessons.

“It’s about how we adapt to those lessons that matters to the evolution of our sport.”

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering