/ Rugby

World Cup inquest to begin for England

Updated: Friday, 14 Oct 2011 10:40

Martin Johnson - May have presided over his last game as England coach
Martin Johnson - May have presided over his last game as England coach

The English Rugby Football Union have launched an investigation into all allegations of player misconduct during at the World Cup.

Any player found to have breached the Union's elite player agreement or their code of conduct could face punishments ranging from a fine to an international suspension, acting chief executive Martyn Thomas announced.

The investigation will be undertaken over the next two weeks by Karena Vleck, the head of the RFU's legal department, as Twickenham begin to deal with the fall out of England's World Cup failure.

Martin Johnson has been given until Monday week to indicate whether he wants to be considered for re-appointment as England manager.

Thomas confirmed Fran Cotton will lead a review of the RFU's elite set-up, including England's record since Johnson was appointed and the current management structure of the national team.

Rob Andrew's position will also come under fresh scrutiny. Andrew announced on Sunday that he had accepted the job as the RFU's new professional game director but that claim was shot down by Thomas.

"It has obviously not been a good World Cup by any standards for us, both on the field and off the field," said Thomas.

"I think it is fair to say we are unhappy with what happened on the field. England should deliver better than it has. The off-field performances have been wholly unacceptable.

"I don't want to pre-empt any actions that are taken but on Monday I spoke to Karena Vleck, the legal officer, and she will be investigating all the allegations of misconduct off the field.

"She will deal with issues in relation to breach of the elite player squad agreement and indeed, in fact, in terms of the code of conduct we put in.

"The appropriate action will be taken against those players.
"Under the terms of the elite player squad agreement they can be fined in relation to their match fees, they can be fined or cautioned in relation to breaches of the player code of conduct.

"It is open to discussions with Rob Andrew and the England team manager that they would not be available to England going forward as a fairly significant sanction.

"Martin has been let down by a number of the players."
England's disciplinary issues ranged from a drunken night out in Queenstown to Manu Tuilagi jumping from a ferry into Auckland harbour, for which he was fined £3000 by the RFU.
Johnson, whose contract expires at the end of December, has been given until 24 October - the day after the World Cup final - to declare whether he would like to continue in the post.
Thomas insisted England would not rush any appointment and he did not rule out appointing a caretaker coach for the Six Nations if needs be.

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