Haskell, Ashton and Hartley (anyone who follows rugby could have come up with those names before the news was released) took out their puerility on an employee of their hotel. They stole her walkie-talkie, taunted her, videoed her, made crass insinuations and humiliated her. Better than having to earn your money by training, isn’t it boys, ha ha. Even when they were asked to apologise, that naughty Haskell, the terror of the lower sixth, the one with the big silly grin, got it wrong again by handing her a bunch of flowers (which I bet he didn’t pay for) and saying “they don’t smell as good as you”. What a charmer you are, James. What a klutz.
Former captain, Tindall, who recently married into the royal family, seems hell bent on breaking the world record at finding his way out of it. Having been captured by CCTV in scrum-like positions with a girl at one bar he strenuously denied the accusation that he then took her to a second bar and groped again. But they did go and he did grope and that too was captured on CCTV. Well, who’d have thought. Considering that he has been in front of TV cameras countless times, his inability to imagine that there might be a camera at the bar is mind-blowing. His manager, the big, strong, tough, serious, puzzled Martin Johnson explained Tindall’s denial as simply an error, adding that “his recollection is wrong of where he’s been and the order he’s in there and that is what it is.” Thank you so much for clearing that up, Martin.
And that is perhaps why Johnno is usually referred to as the England boss rather than manager, because management there is not. Is it too much to ask that English sportsmen abroad behave professionally for just a few weeks and leave aside the antics and the alcohol. Can they not even pretend to be grown up. In their eyes there’s no point, as they know they won’t be sent home; they will still be selected for the team and still be paid. They love the limelight, the publicity, good or bad. They may even win the cup (doubtful), so there is no deterrent whatsoever, except perhaps for an awkward conversation with the lady thirteenth in line to the throne. And if they do win it (actually, very doubtful) then the lack of responsibility will be forgotten. So it’s almost tempting to wish that they lose, just to attach some lasting blame to the players whose behaviour lets down their country. I said almost.