Humiliated Tindall fined and axed from England squad
From glory to ignominy, Mike Tindall's England career apparently ended in disgrace yesterday.
The 33-year-old World Cup winner was kicked out of the Elite Player Squad squad and fined £25,000 after an English RFU investigation into his drunken night in a dwarf-themed Queenstown bar.
The sanction -- tantamount to a public humiliation of England's most-capped centre -- provoked a furious reaction from the Rugby Players' Association, which called the fine "extraordinary."
Tindall will appeal and is understood to feel he has been made a scapegoat for England's World Cup failure, especially given that he broke no curfew during the night out on September 11, during which he was filmed cavorting with a blonde woman just weeks after his wedding to the British queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips.
He considered issuing a statement yesterday to express his sense of injustice, but was persuaded to keep his counsel, instead allowing the RPA to speak on his behalf. It said: "We note the extraordinary fine handed down to Mike Tindall following the disciplinary process. Mike will be appealing this unprecedented fine."
The punishment follows an investigation by Rob Andrew, the RFU's operations director, and Karena Vleck, their legal officer. The £25,000 fine is half of Tindall's World Cup fee.
Justifying the severity of the action, Andrew said: "Tindall's actions reached a level of misconduct that was unacceptable in a senior England player and amounted to a very serious breach of the EPS Code of Conduct."
The RFU yesterday also admonished James Haskell and Chris Ashton for their behaviour with hotel chambermaid Annabel Newton in Dunedin two days prior to the Queenstown episode, issuing them with suspended fines of £5,000 each.
It added that it "did not believe the players had any intention to sexually harass or intimidate Ms Newton" and that "allegations of very serious wrongdoing...were entirely false".
Tindall will continue to play for Gloucester and is due to turn out for them in tomorrow's Heineken Cup game in Toulouse. (© Daily Telegraph, London)