Damning England World Cup reports leaked

 

Lewis Moody today admitted he made mistakes as England captain during the World Cup but insisted he never put commercial gain before his rugby.

Moody has reportedly been criticised by England's elite rugby director Rob Andrew for leading a senior player delegation that disputed the squad's World Cup payments.

The 33-year-old Bath flanker is also criticised by one unnamed team-mate for having too much contact with his agent during the tournament and setting the wrong example.

The criticisms of Moody were contained in two of the three reports into England's disastrous World Cup campaign that have been leaked to The Times.

Moody said in a statement: "I put my body on the line for the lads, the team and England every time I played and anyone who has watched me play knows that I give everything on the field and have always prioritised rugby ahead of everything else, including financial reward."

Rugby Players' Association chief Damian Hopley has demanded an investigation to track down the source of the leaked confidential World Cup reports.

In a hard-hitting statement, 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.

"Players were critical of themselves, of the coaching team and of the RFU and its leadership. Their determination was for everyone to be accountable and take responsibility for the disappointing showing in the Rugby World Cup.

"Many comments were understandably robust because they knew England had not performed as they could have and the players are committed to getting things right for the future.

"Our players were assured that their feedback would be totally confidential, and yet no sooner has the report been sent to the Board Members than it appears in a national newspaper.

Hopley continued: "If England wants to regain its status as a respected rugby nation, it is imperative that we stop the rot at the top of the game and show some much needed integrity. What example does this set to the game? It is an absolute disgrace.

"It was the lack of faith in the system and process being confidential that saw many players shy away from completing the RFU questionnaires in the first place and, perhaps not surprisingly, their mistrust has been proven to be correct.

"We cannot ignore that once again there has been a serious breach of confidentiality.

"We are demanding a detailed investigation to track down the source of the leak and deal appropriately with that person. If we are serious about destroying the porous culture in our game, then we need to introduce tougher security measures to weed out these self-serving people once and for all."

Moody contined: "Captaining England was, and remains, the ultimate honour for me and I accepted that honour knowing all the scrutiny that came with it.

"I am confident I did the job to the absolute best of my ability but if some of the players thought that was not enough I will have to learn to live with that.

"I have always been my own fiercest critic and have already been honest that there were some things I wish I had done differently at the World Cup, but I have learnt from the experience and hope others can do the same.

"I have only ever undertaken personal commercial activities in my own time and I'm comfortable I got that balance right at all times.

"Where I had to be involved in commercial conversations with the RFU it was as captain, working with the RPA, representing the best interests of the players, not for any personal gain. I do not think anyone who knows me would think differently."

The Times today published details of the confidential reports compiled by the RFU, the RPA, who surveyed players anonymously, and the Aviva Premiership clubs.

Andrew is reported to have written in the RFU report: "Some of the senior players were more focused on money rather than getting the rugby right."

One player is reported to have reacted to England's quarter-final defeat to France by saying: "There's £35k just gone down the toilet".

Hardly anyone escapes the review with their reputations intact.

The coaching regime, other than scrum specialist Graham Rowntree, comes in for strong criticism.

England were eventually beaten by France in the quarter-finals, equalling their worst performance in a World Cup after a campaign dogged by controversy.

Team manager Martin Johnson is reportedly criticised for failing to instil discipline following a series of off-field incidents, with one unnamed player quoted as saying "he was too loyal and that was his downfall".

The reports leaked to The Times were never intended to be published. The Professional Game Board, which runs elite rugby in England, are due to make recommendations based on the reports' conclusions to the RFU management board on November 30.

Moody was also angry the players' confidentiality was betrayed by the leak which he believes was done for "political purposes".

But he warned all parties - the RFU, the players' union and the clubs - not to allow this to distract them from the main purpose of the reports, which is to improve the England team.

"Once again it is deeply disappointing to see players' feedback aimed at improving England rugby, and which we were promised would remain confidential and anonymous, being put in the public domain for political purposes," Moody said.

"The next few months will be vital for the English rugby and I hope the opportunity is seized to use player feedback for positive change not negative recriminations and political games.

"I have retired from England and am now focused on Bath Rugby and playing my rugby in the same way I always have with passion and commitment. It is time we looked forward not back."

PA

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