Moody quits England as he hits out at team-mates

 

Two World Cup finals and one depressing World Cup misfire into his long, body-busting tour of duty as a professional rugby player, Lewis Moody ended his international career yesterday, leaving England in need of a captain – and, far more urgently, of an open-side flanker capable of mixing it with the best breakaway forwards in the sport.

Moody's decision was hardly surprising: at 33, he had no chance of a fourth visit to a global tournament. But the poverty of red-rose resources in his position is more transparent as a result of his departure.

Moody was not a natural No 7 himself – more of a 6.5, if truth be told – but he had the mindset of a specialist groundhog, if not the skill set. As Martin Johnson, the England manager, said yesterday: "He put his body on the line for the team more times than even he can remember. To play in two finals and lead his country in a third campaign is a great testament to him. He will be missed on and off the field." After 71 Tests, the Ascot-born forward will continue to play Premiership and Heineken Cup rugby for Bath, whom he joined last season after a long stint at Leicester.

With a little luck, he will have a quieter time of it in the West Country than he had in New Zealand, where England's many and varied extra-curricular problems placed his leadership under considerable pressure. Those problems may yet do for Johnson, his former clubmate at Welford Road. If it does, Moody will be pleased he made an early decision and had done with it.

Yesterday, he had the good grace to acknowledge that his team's behaviour early in the tournament, when several players indulged in an all-too-public drinking binge after beating Argentina in their opening pool match, was a long way short of brilliant – an admission made by precious few members of the red-rose party. "We were given an evening off to have food and socialise," he said of the now infamous evening in Queenstown.

"By 9.30pm, I was not comfortable: we were getting more and more attention in terms of people wanting autographs and photographs. I was very aware of my position as England captain and I left around 10pm; I was leaving as the other group [the more enthusiastic party animals] were arriving.

"In hindsight, I would have loved to have said to them all 'let's go', to have made everyone come home with me. But we are all grown men and the reality is that we decided not to impose an alcohol ban. We are professionals; we trust each other to have the team at heart, to make choices knowing that what we do as individuals affects the team.

"We talked at length before the tournament about teamship. There were rules in place. We talked about conduct, about what was acceptable and what was not. But you can only make people aware, tell them and tell them. Some have to get burned before they understand. It is the most bitterly annoying thing imaginable."

He deserved better than to bow out saying those kinds of things, but his colleagues – some of them, like the centre Mike Tindall, very senior colleagues – left him in a bad position. As for the future, Moody's successor as flanker – and, indeed, as captain – is in the gift of the red-rose back-roomers. A decision will be made before Christmas and announced on New Year's Day. Whether Johnson and his coaching colleagues play any part in that process remains to be seen. The likelihood as things stand is that they will not.

England captaincy: Three contenders

Nick Easter (Harlequins)

 

The No 8 has two World Cups behind him and has been a senior player for some time, leading England twice over the last year, but, at age 33, is hardly one for the future.

 

 

Dylan Hartley (Northampton)

 

An effective captain at club level, the hooker was being talked of as a potential leader before the World Cup. Then he lost his Test place to the veteran Steve Thompson.

 

 

Tom Wood (Northampton)

 

Bold option. Mature, single-minded and respected. Unfortunately, not considered an automatic choice, largely because he falls between two stools positionally.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform