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Leaked World Cup reports question Johnson's courage

LEAKED reports into England's rugby World Cup debacle paint a picture of a squad in meltdown and expose leadership failings greater than even their dismal performance had suggested.

A trio of reviews by the Rugby Football Union's director of elite rugby Rob Andrew, the players' union, and professional clubs had not been intended to be seen by the public, but were obtained by The Times, with the London-based daily revealing their contents this morning.

England's campaign in New Zealand ended with a 19-12 quarter-final loss to France, and was characterised by indiscipline and mismanagement. Coach Martin Johnson stepped down earlier this month.

Captain Mike Tindall was belatedly fined £25,000 for his drunken behaviour during a night out in Queenstown, but the ramifications of that now infamous evening sent shudders through the squad.


"I suppose we just wanted Johnno to have the (courage) to take action. He was too loyal," one player was quoted as saying.

The players' report was based on anonymous interviews. It made a series of recommendations which all centred on discipline.

"If it's the senior players leading drinking games or drinking until they can't remember anything, what example are the younger players set?" said another player.

The coaching set-up also came under fire, except for scrum coach Graham Rowntree, who was praised.

"They'd had four years to develop a plan for the World Cup and it felt like they were doing it off-the-cuff in New Zealand," one player said.

The three reports paint a picture of some individuals who were only interested in making money.

One player reported hearing another, after the quarter-final loss, saying: "There's £35,000 down the toilet."

The publication of the reports is likely to do little to help attract a top-notch coach to replace Johnson.

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder has been tipped by insiders for the job.