Thomas given the boot as 'scapegoat' Tindall lets rip


Another routine day at world sport's biggest cabaret, otherwise known as the Rugby Football Union, ended with the sudden departure of the most controversial figure in domestic sporting governance, the acting chief executive Martyn Thomas, and a fierce blast of moral outrage from Mike Tindall, of all people on God's earth.

The England centre Tindall, reinstated to the elite player squad by Thomas on Monday night, after being ejected as punishment for his drunken excesses during the recent World Cup campaign in New Zealand, released a statement lambasting the governing body for mistreating him during the disciplinary process. Yes, really.

"While I accept the decision made by the appeal panel," said the Gloucester midfielder, who also had a £25,000 penalty reduced by 40 per cent, "I still maintain the level of fine is not in line with other RFU disciplinary cases. I am deeply disappointed by the way the RFU has chosen to handle the situation and I have felt throughout the process that my case was made unnecessarily political and public... and that I ended up being a scapegoat."

He went on to emphasise that he accepted his share of reponsibility for events in the South Island resort of Queenstown, the night after England's narrow victory in the opening pool match with Argentina. There again, he would have been hard pressed not to accept it. His misbehaviour at a late-night bar, where security cameras captured him canoodling with a blonde while in a state of advanced inebriation, was reported worldwide, not least because he had just married into the royal family, and was one of the principal factors that sent England's tournament challenge into meltdown.

"I drank too much," he admitted. "It unfortunately created a level of media interest that was an unwanted distraction for myself, my team-mates, Martin Johnson [the England manager, who resigned last week] and his staff. I can again only apologise unreservedly for this."

Drummed out of the Test squad on his return by the director of elite rugby Rob Andrew and the Union's company secretary and legal officer Karena Vleck, he clawed back significant ground last week when Thomas, very much at loggerheads with Andrew in Twickenham's recent committee-room wars, heard his appeal.

The decision to reinstate Tindall and save him £10,000 into the bargain was announced on Monday night and sent significant numbers of RFU council members into a blind fury. Complaints were sent to Paul Murphy, the chairman of the governing body, and Ian Metcalfe, the influential management board member who chairs the increasingly influential Professional Game Board. Within hours, it was confirmed the CEO would leave the union immediately rather than on 16 December – the date originally set when Thomas was effectively stripped of his many and varied rugby roles earlier this month.

Stephen Brown, chief financial officer, will perform the chief executive duties until a permanent appointment is made – possibly before Christmas, although at least one candidate from the commercial world is thought to have distanced himself from the job as a result of the torrents of bad publicity raining down on the RFU as a result of England's poor performance in New Zealand and the hugely damaging leaks of confidential reports into those failures last week.

Predictably, there was no reflection of the squabbling and backbiting at Twickenham in the RFU's announcement of Thomas' departure. Murphy thanked him for his time and effort and praised him for his success in winning the hosting rights for the 2015 World Cup, while Thomas himself said it was "entirely logical" that Brown should take over. "I have every confidence he will provide the stability and leadership needed," said the outgoing grandee. Well, someone has to.

In the midst of all this, there was another twist in the sorry tale that is Twickenham. The independent counsel Charles Flint QC, engaged by the RFU to consider whether any disciplinary charges might be brought against Thomas over the deeply contentious dismissal of John Steele from the CEO position last season, found the governing body had no grounds to do anything of the sort.

This is undeniably a victory for Thomas over another of his political rivals, the union's chief disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett, who, during a debate on a vote of no confidence in Thomas back in September, had indicated there was sufficient evidence for charges to be laid. It remains to be seen whether this finding will be used by Thomas against his RFU enemies over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Wales are in a much happier place. Warren Gatland will have the backbone of his tournament side available to him for this weekend's one-off Test with the Wallabies in Cardiff, with only a handful of first-choice players – the centre Jonathan Davies, the scrum-half Mike Phillips, the prop Adam Jones and the lock Luke Charteris – missing through injury or unavailability.

Scott Williams will pair up with Jamie Roberts in Davies' absence while Lloyd Williams starts in the No 9 shirt. Scott Andrews plays in the front row with the highly effective if injury-prone Ospreys lock Ian Evans reclaiming a place in the engine room.

"As we remember the highs and lows of the World Cup, the focus must now be to build for the next four years – both towards the immediate future of the Six Nations and onwards towards the 2015 World Cup," said Gatland, who has called the uncapped Cardiff Blues back Alex Cuthbert on to the bench alongside the Ospreys outside-half Dan Biggar. The Lions Test hooker Matthew Rees is also among the replacements.

Revolving door: England upheaval

Gone! Martin Johnson

Resigned as manager last week after an unstable 43-month tenure that finally collapsed in New Zealand. No successor is likely to emerge before the start of the Six Nations in February.

Gone! Martyn Thomas

Ended his long association with the RFU yesterday after years of committee-room upheaval that left the Twickenham carpets soaked in blood. A new CEO is expected by Christmas.

Going? Rob Andrew

The director of elite rugby is still in place, but he is dodging more bullets than John Wayne. He has significant support at the RFU, but Sir Clive Woodward hovers.

16 November Martin Johnson resigns as England manager following his side's poor showing at the World Cup but RFU director of elite rugby, Rob Andrew, rejects calls that he, too, should quit. Johnson had 38 games in charge.

17 November World Cup-winning England coach Clive Woodward criticises the RFU for failing to support the inexperienced Johnson in his first role in management. Woodward says Johnson should have been given a "mentor" to assist him.

21 November Ironically, amid all the gloom the RFU announces a record £8.7m profit in the last financial year – a marked improvement on the £1.1m loss recorded in 2009-10, thanks mainly to increased match-day revenue.

22 November Triumphant New Zealand coach Graham Henry rules himself out as a candidate to replace Johnson. The World Cup winner was considered a front-runner for English rugby's top job, but says he has little desire to live in the northern hemisphere again.

23 November A damning confidential report, in which players gave their opinions on the World Cup fiasco, is leaked. Coaches were criticised for amateur methods, while some players were accused of focusing on financial gain.

24 November Rob Andrew admits the RFU has "hit rock bottom" with the revelations, saying changes need to be made within the organisation. The attack coach Brian Smith resigns after being described as "way out of his depth" in the leaked report.

25 November It is revealed that three players were encouraged by the RFU's head of media to pay a female Dunedin hotel worker "hush money" following an incident of "lewd behaviour".

28 November Mike Tindall returns to the elite player squad after successfully appealing his exclusion.

Yesterday Chief executive, Martyn Thomas, departs the RFU with immediate effect, also leaving his role as chairman of the organising committee for the 2015 World Cup.

Will Unwin

Suggested Topics
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'