Paparazzi's midnight snap costs rugby prodigy his England place

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The Independent Online

For Danny Cipriani, tomorrow afternoon should have been the high point of his fledgling rugby career. At just 20 years old he was to make his first start for his country as England took on Scotland in the Six Nations Championship.

But come 3.15pm, Cipriani will be nowhere near Edinburgh's Murrayfield stadium and the Calcutta Cup tie. Instead, the full-back will be at Loftus Road with his club, Wasps, for their game with Harlequins. For the rising star of English rugby was unceremoniously dumped from the squad after he was pictured leaving a London nightclub in the early hours of yesterday.

In visiting the Isis club in Dover Street, Mayfair, Cipriani is thought to have broken strict guidelines which insist that players agree to abide by certain rules of behaviour ahead of matches. The England head coach, Brian Ashton said: "I have taken the decision regarding Danny and the matter is now closed. I will keep an open mind on selecting him for future games."

Cipriani's side of the story is that he was merely in the nightclub to drop off tickets to Saturday's match to friends, that he wasn't drinking alcohol and that no sooner had he arrived, he was gone again.

Immediately after the England team management's announcement, Shaun Edwards and Lawrence Dallaglio, Cipriani's manager and team-mate repectively at Wasps, rallied behind him. They admitted he had been "naive", but insisted that the decision was an "over-reaction" and said that he was "devastated".

It is not the first time that Cipriani has seen his name in the headlines for the wrong reasons. At the tail end of last year the red-tops were abuzz with news of the rugby wonderkid's budding relationship with Monica Irimia, the half of the Transylvanian-born pop duo The Cheeky Girls that isn't dating the Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik.

A short while later their relationship appeared to be over when the News of the World revealed that Cipriani had spent the night in a hotel with a model named Larissa Summers, who duly detailed their encounter. But worse was to come. The same newspaper revealed that Larissa was once a man named Darren. Cipriani's Wasps team-mate Simon Shaw revealed he was now known in the dressing room as "Danny Cipriani Who Slept With A Man".