Mike Tindall blasts English RFU for making him World Cup scapegoat
Mike Tindall has apologised "unreservedly" for his behaviour on a night out in Queenstown during the World Cup, but says he is "deeply disappointed" at the way the Rugby Football Union handled the situation.
Tindall was reinstated to the England elite player squad on Monday night, and had a £25,000 fine reduced to £15,000, after appealing his initial sanction meted out by RFU elite rugby director Rob Andrew for late-night antics during the RWC.
The Gloucester centre, however, feels the reduced fine is still too severe, despite admitting that his actions created an "unwanted distraction" for England during their abject World Cup campaign in New Zealand.
"While I accept the decision made by the disciplinary appeal panel last night, I still maintain that the level of fine is not in line with other RFU disciplinary cases," Tindall said.
"I absolutely accept my share of responsibility for what happened in Queenstown and that I drank too much that night. It unfortunately created a level of media interest which was an unwanted distraction for myself, my teammates, Martin Johnson and his staff. I can again only apologise unreservedly for this.
"I am deeply disappointed by the way the RFU has chosen to handle the situation and I have felt throughout the disciplinary process that my case was made unnecessarily political and public by the RFU, and that I ended up being made a scapegoat.
"Yesterday's decision goes some way to reflect a fairer assessment of what actually happened during the World Cup. It had been suggested that I intentionally misled people in relation to the events in Queenstown and I am pleased, following this appeal process, that it has been made clear that I did not do so. I feel somewhat vindicated by the decision to reinstate me back into the Elite Player Squad.
"It is the ultimate honour to play for your country and I am proud and privileged to have done this for over 11 years. I have always put my heart and soul into playing for England."
Tindall added: "For now, my immediate focus is playing for Gloucester on Friday and I would like to thank the great team of people around me as well as the fans who have been hugely supportive.
"I would finally like to thank Damian Hopley and the RPA, as well as Owen Eastwood at Lewis Silkin, for the help and advice I received from them throughout what has been a difficult and frustrating time for me."