Oval Talk

Wayward players damaging rugby

Oval Talk

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Danny Care in happier times

It could not have been an easy decision for Stuart Lancaster to drop Danny Care from England's Six Nations squad.

The interim coach made the call after the scrum-half ended up in police custody twice in the space of three weeks.

But to drop such a talented player who Lancaster mentored at Leeds academy was a decision not taken lightly.

Care was charged with drink-driving on New Year's Day, a few weeks after he was arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

In the light of the multiple off-field controversies during the World Cup by England players there is little surprise in the decision, but is it just?

Care was also fined £10,000 by his club Saracens and will also work on their inner-city programme for the next eight months.

The fine is £5,000 less than the reduced punishment England's 2011 World Cup acting-captain Mike Tindall received for his misdemeanours in New Zealand.

And Care should feel aggrieved by the way he has been treated considering what the RFU did when Tindall was banned from driving for three years in 2009.

It was Tindall's second drink-driving offence yet he played throughout England's 2009 Six Nations campaign.

Where is the consistency? The decision to drop Care is based purely on the negative publicity the game has received over the last 12 months. And that has to be a concern for fans and governing bodies alike.

Danny Cipriani was the first major player in 2011 to be reprimanded for his off-field antics with his club, Melbourne Rebels, fining him a match fee after he helped himself to a bottle of vodka in a nightclub.

The former England fly-half was also told he would be sacked if there were any future incidents.

Wales' Mark Phillips was suspended indefinitely after he had to be restrained following an altercation with a couple of bouncers on a night out in Cardiff. He was later reinstated to the squad when he apologised to his team-mates.

Phillips fellow Welshmen Gavin Henson and Andy Powell also made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Henson was suspended by Toulon after a bar fight with some of his team-mates and did not have his contract renewed at the end of the season.

Powell was released by London Wasps after he was in a bar fight in London.

Then there was the whole Tindall and England saga at the World Cup. New Zealand were also in the papers during the World Cup after Cory Jane and Israel Dagg went on a drinking binge three days before their quarter-final against Argentina.

And if that was not bad enough their team-mate Zac Guildford went on a naked, drunken rampage shortly after the All Blacks won the World Cup and he ended up at a police station.

Whatever the reason for this continuing trend it is damaging the game's reputation.

If every player followed what Care, himself, tweeted just a few hours before he was caught for drink-driving there would be no problem.

"2012 is hopefully going to be a massive year…Earn respect. Earn the shirt. Set the example."

He's lost any respect people had for him, he's lost his shirt and if that is the example being set then we're all in trouble.

Let's hope these rugby players realise they are responsible adults and act that way because all of these headlines are tiring and embarrassing.

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