England's Moody admits error

Lewis Moodey (Gallo Images)
Lewis Moodey (Gallo Images)

London - Former England captain Lewis Moody admits he should have banned his team-mates from going on nights out during their shambolic World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

Martin Johnson's side were the subject of numerous stories about poor off-field behaviour, the most high-profile concerning an evening visit to a Queensland bar that made headlines because of security footage showing recently married Mike Tindall in conversation with a woman.

Moody, who retired from international rugby after the World Cup, was present at the Queensland bar, which infamously was hosting a 'Mad Midget Weekender', but left early on.

However, the 33-year-old concedes he had a bad feeling about the squad's attitude from the moment they arrived in New Zealand.

In an extract from his book, Mad Dog: An Englishman, serialised in the Mail On Sunday, Moody said: "I had been growing concerned about the attitude in the camp, which had become apparent pretty much from the moment we arrived in Auckland.

"We were on the other side of the world, a lot of the guys were young, well-known, wealthy and believed they were invincible.

"I remember thinking that some were not quite in the right mind-set."

Moody claims England had been too free-spirited and "got burned" as a result, leading the team to decide at a players' meeting that they needed to be better disciplined.

Despite that, the controversies kept coming, with coaches Dave Alred and Paul Stridgeon suspended for a game after illegally changing balls and centre Manu Tuilagi given a warning by Auckland police for disorderly behaviour after jumping from a ferry as it was about to dock.

Moody admits such incidents left a shadow over the end of his international career as England bowed out in the quarter-finals against France.

"If I could change one thing, knowing some of the characters we had in that squad, it would be to have banned them from going out at all," he said.

He insists Tindall, who is married to the Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips, did nothing wrong and that pictures of him with a blonde woman that surfaced later showed him getting "drunk with an old friend" and media coverage blew the incident out of proportion.

But Moody admitted: "I take some of the blame. I was captain and the buck stopped with Johnno and me.

"Tindall coped with the media flak but he was churning inside. I imagine he felt he had let a lot of people down. I knew that Tins had done nothing more than get drunk with an old friend."

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