RFU begins probe into leaking of explosive reports

Some Twickenham insiders suggest the leak was an attempt to damage the board

The Rugby Football Union, in the formidable shape of its chief disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett, last night launched an access-all-areas inquiry into the leaking of three confidential reviews into England's ill-starred World Cup campaign in New Zealand – reports that painted a black picture of confusion, indiscipline and division amongst the coaching staff, the players and pretty much everyone else involved. But even if the governing body identifies the individual responsible, who will be in very serious trouble if unmasked, they will be hard pressed to find any salvation.

English rugby is lying in the gutter and looking anywhere but at the stars, especially now that the Professional Game Board – the body set up to bring the RFU, the Premiership clubs and the players' union together – has proved itself unable to keep its secrets. Some Twickenham insiders suggested that the leak was a deliberate attempt to damage the board's credibility and undermine its growing influence.

The three reports, all of them extremely damning of the World Cup campaign in their different ways, were presented to the board a week ago. Yesterday, scores of pages of startling accusations, from players who agreed to participate on the grounds that their views would remain private, were in the public domain. "Why would any player ever volunteer to go through such a process ever again?" asked Simon Shaw, at 38 the most senior player in the elite squad. "It's very difficult to accept that such a thing has happened."

Shaw was particularly upset at the open criticism of fellow players – especially the captain, Lewis Moody, who not only had his leadership qualities questioned by some of those who performed under him but was also accused of spending too much time on commercial affairs. "The disappointing thing for me is that this should be happening in rugby," Shaw said. "The whole point of rugby is that you play as a team and stand as a team. For individuals to be singled out ... that's not what it's meant to be about. Whatever decisions the people on the RFU now make, whoever they put in charge, they have to make sure the governing body itself is right. Trying to make England the best team in the world against the background we've had over the last year or so is incredibly difficult."

Get Adobe Flash player

While Moody felt obliged to defend himself – "I am confident I did the captain's job to the best of my ability, but if some of the players felt that was not enough, I will have to learn to live with it," he said – the chairman of the Rugby Players' Association, Damian Hopley, said he was "devastated that our members' trust has been so publicly betrayed". He added: "If England want to regain their status as a respected rugby nation, it is imperative we stop the rot at the top of the game and show some much-needed integrity."

Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, said he had already impressed on the RFU the need for a shake-up of the game's governance – the development of a better balance between "those that represent the vested interest in the game and those who bring external expertise". He said: "The important thing is that the RFU sees this as an opportunity to reform. Sport in this country has quite a lot of governance that is stuck in a previous era and in rugby's case, I don't think there has been a full transition from the old amateur days."

To rub it in, the appeal of disgraced England centre Mike Tindall against a £25,000 fine imposed for drunken behaviour at the World Cup will be heard at Twickenham today. What price a leak of the verdict?

'He was just too loyal': What the players said

On the England manager Martin Johnson

"Johnno was surrounded by the wrong people. We just wanted Johnno to have the bollocks to take action, especially after the Mike Tindall night. He was too loyal and that was his downfall."

On Jonny Wilkinson's kicking coach Dave Alred

"We had kicking problems and yet almost every morning, who do you see swanning around in a polo shirt about to play another round of golf but Alred. It's not the image you should be giving off that this is like a holiday to you. 'Ballgate' was the worst incident in my mind because it was cheating."

On Lewis Moody

"We didn't really have a good captain. I think Johnno liked Moody as he left the team talks to Johnno. He wasn't very good at team talks, just fucked a lot."

On forwards coach John Wells

"He was out of his depth. There must be 20 coaches in the Premiership who would be better. He missed serious detail in lineout play. Good at the technical side but pretty archaic."

On attack coach Brian Smith

"I would be delighted if he went. Our attack play was boring, uninventive, lacklustre, even schoolboy at times. He was out of his depth."

On fly-half Wilkinson

"Jonny Wilkinson is not an attacking threat any more. We really needed [Toby] Flood because he is the one who bosses the team. Floody was part of the reason England played well in the Six Nations."

On defence coach Mike Ford

"His analysis was like a white wall of jargon. Half the time we had no idea what he was talking about. We have buzzwords at our club but the difference is they mean something. It was like banging your head against a brick wall. He was full of pointless stats."

On scrum coach Graham Rowntree

"He was the best of all the coaches. He's ahead of his time."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil