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?
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
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

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment