Stan Hey: Confined to quarters or out on the lash: a sporting dilemma

Share

The film-maker Billy Wilder once advised a writer that a man coming in through a door wasn’t dramatic, but that a man coming in through a window was. Similarly, a rugby player having a drink and chatting to a blonde is not news. But when the rugby player is the stand-in England captain, married to a granddaughter of the Queen, you have both drama and news.

Mike Tindall’s encounter in the Altitude Bar in Queenstown, New Zealand, has been writ large, notably by way of security camera footage uploaded to YouTube with comments on his behaviour. Coming in the aftermath of England’s stressful win over Argentina in their first match of the World Cup, the incident, though innocent – the blonde woman is a mutual friend of Tindall, pictured, and his wife Zara Phillips – is exactly what team manager Martin Johnson asked his players to avoid.

The dynamics of the modern sports tour dictate that players need “down-time” after the adrenalin surge of competition, and that taking tea and scones in the lounge doesn’t count. A few drinks and a bonding session are essential relief from action on the field and boredom in the hotel.

One of the other dynamics is that star-struck or spiteful opportunists – or a branch of the press known as “rotters” – will be watching every move, with mobile-phone cameras, or digital recorders to hand. For the opportunists it’s a chance to make a name and possibly some money; for the “rotter” it’s the reason to be on the tour, to file anything remotely scandalous back to the office.

It wasn’t always so – before the digital and CCTV age, and “kiss’n’tell” – most sportsmen on tour could misbehave with relative impunity, as long as no crime was committed. But by the mid-1970s, codes of silence had faded. Most reported events were the result of drinking sessions – perhaps a Scottish international footballer adrift in the Irish Sea in a rowing boat at 4am or a young woman claiming to have had, that favourite tabloid word, a “romp” with a sports star. Larger-than-life personalities such as Ian Botham (alleged romp; spliff) and Freddie Flintoff (drunk in pedalo) will always be known by their indiscretions.

Team managers tried total tolerance or total prohibition. In 1990, the Irish football squad christened their hotel “the Betty Ford Clinic”. Sven Goran Eriksson allowed Wags into England’s hotel during the 2006 World Cup, while in 2010, Fabio Capello imprisoned his team with a just a swimming pool and table tennis for leisure. An element of control, and a measure of trust should be the key. All will become clear when England win/lose the rugby World Cup.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
One 200ml bottle of codeine linctus contains three times the equivalent level of morphine you'd get in casualty if you broke your wrist  

The ‘war on drugs’ consistently ignores its greatest enemy: over-the-counter painkillers

Janet Street-Porter
The author contemplating what could have been  

I was a timid, kind, gentle-natured child, later to be spurned and humiliated – in short, the perfect terrorist-in-waiting

Howard Jacobson
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable