Mike Tindall: 'I was made a scapegoat'

 

Mike Tindall today accused the Rugby Football Union of making him a "scapegoat"
in a statement released through the Rugby Players Association.

Tindall was last night reinstated in England's elite player squad and had a £25,000 fine reduced to £15,000 following an appeal against the sanction given for his off-field behaviour at the World Cup.

The 33-year-old England vice-captain feels "somewhat vindicated" by the verdict of the hearing.

However, he still believes he has been punished too severely for his conduct at the Altitude bar in Queenstown, New Zealand.

"I am deeply disappointed by the way the RFU has chosen to handle the situation," read the statement issued by the RPA this afternoon.

"I have felt throughout the disciplinary process that my case was made unnecessarily political and public by the RFU and that I ended up being made a scapegoat.

"Yesterday's decision goes some way to reflect a fairer assessment of what actually happened during the World Cup.

"It had been suggested that I intentionally misled people in relation to the events in Queenstown and I am pleased following this appeal process that it has been made clear that I did not do so.

"I feel somewhat vindicated by the decision to reinstate me back into the Elite Player Squad.

"While I accept the decision made by the disciplinary appeal panel last night I still maintain that the level of fine is not in line with other RFU disciplinary cases.

"I absolutely accept my share of responsibility for what happened in Queenstown and that I drank too much that night.

"It unfortunately created a level of media interest which was an unwanted distraction for myself, my team-mates, Martin Johnson and his staff.

"I can again only apologise unreservedly for this."

The initial sanction came after RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew and legal and governance director Karena Vleck heard evidence earlier this month about Tindall's conduct in Queenstown.

The behaviour of Tindall, who is married to the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips, was described as unacceptable.

The 75 times-capped player misled England management in that he did not tell them he went to another bar in Queenstown.

But acting RFU chief executive Martyn Thomas, who heard the appeal before today stepping down from his position at Twickenham with immediate effect, said he felt mitigating factors did not appear to have been taken into account "to the extent that they might otherwise have been".

"It is the ultimate honour to play for your country and I am proud and privileged to have done this for over 11 years," continued Tindall.

"I have always put my heart and soul into playing for England.

"For now, my immediate focus is playing for Gloucester on Friday and I would like to thank the great team of people around me as well as the fans who have been hugely supportive.

"I would finally like to thank Damian Hopley and the RPA as well as Owen Eastwood at Lewis Silkin for the help and advice I received from them throughout what has been a difficult and frustrating time for me."

PA

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