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Former England rugby captain, Mike Tindall, has endured a few testing months on both personal and professional stages, all of which culminated in his being awarded a £25,000 fine and dropped from the England Elite Squad this past week. Tindall entered into the British Royal Family when he married Zara Phillips, daughter of the Princess Royal six weeks ago.
He was given the fine due to ‘unruly behaviour’ during England’s World Cup campaign back in September. As a sport, rugby union has long been associated with a macho culture of drinking, both by its fans and players. This is partly due to its struggling to find its identity following the adoption of professionalism in the 1990s.
Given this relatively recent move from an amateur sport to a professional one, many of the current players grew up playing the sport during the amateur era. The drinking and socialising with teammates outside of the sport is still a critical part of developing team chemistry.
Though this ‘drinking culture’ in rugby is generally accepted, as the players usually maintain high standards of behaviour, Tindall was not allowed to get away with his unruly actions due to the increased media scrutiny at the World Cup. Tindall was photographed drinking and showing raucous behaviour with teammates Chris Ashton, Dylan Hartley, and Toby Flood in the Altitude Bar in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Following this, allegations were made that he had cheated on his wife and that he and his teammates’ behaviour had involved ‘throwing dwarfs’ amongst other incredulous stories. With the bar manager, Rich Deane, assuring the press that nothing of the sort had happened and with the Rugby Football Union concerned with keeping the England management focused on the World Cup, no action was taken until the competition was over.
Many players have jumped to Tindall’s defense, especially given the fact that fellow teammates, James Haskell and Chris Ashton, have been given far more lenient punishments of suspended £5,000 fines for similar behavior during the tournament.
This has lead to criticism being laid at the feet of RFU Operations Director Rob Andrew, who many believe is looking to make Tindall a scapegoat for England’s disappointing exit at the quarterfinal stage of the competition.
Tindall will appeal against the fine and has the full support of the Rugby Players Association, who described the punishment as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘extraordinary’. Although Tindall must accept that, as a member of the Royal Family, his behavior is held to standards above even a professional athlete, he does feel that he has genuine grounds to be disgruntled with a punishment that likely spells the end of an illustrious international career.
His career has seen him pick up 75 caps for England, as well as winning the World Cup in 2003.
Imagine Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidhowlett/