England discipline will be ok

Published: Wednesday 10th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie expressed sadness that Manu Tuilagi and Dylan Hartley will miss the Rugby World Cup due to disciplinary issues but maintains hosts England are capable of winning the tournament.

Leicester centre Tuilagi and Northampton hooker Hartley have been ruled out of consideration by England head coach Stuart Lancaster due to off and on-field indisicipline.

“I think it’s sad that the opportunity of a lifetime we’ve been talking about today, some of the players are going to miss it,” said Ritchie, who was speaking at Twickenham, where England host Fiji in the World Cup opener on September 18.

“I don’t think there’s an underlying problem. The culture that’s been engendered over the last three years (under Lancaster) will come through during the course of the tournament.

“I know all of the players in the squad recognise their responsibilities and what an important year this has been. It is the ultimate in terms of our sport.

“I don’t think anything that’s occurred dilutes that, one jot.”

Ritchie was speaking as Prince Harry launched the Rugby World Cup trophy tour with 100 days to go to the tournament.

Ritchie added: “Of course we want to win. As far as the England team are concerned, we’re going to be very competitive.

“We will be giving it absolutely our best shot. What I think gives us an advantage is we are the hosts. We’re in an extremely good place.

“We’ve got a highly competitive squad and we’re certainly going to give it our all.”

Ritchie hopes for similar support from the public as that enjoyed during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We want to galvanise the nation to support England in the same way the country has done with other sporting events in the last few years,” he added.

Tuilagi will not be considered by Lancaster until January 2016 after being fined for two counts of assaulting a police officer, assault by beating and causing criminal damage.

Hartley was banned for four weeks for headbutting Saracens hooker Jamie George, who has replaced him in the squad.

Hartley has been hit with 54 weeks of sanctions in a career punctuated by indisicipline.

Jonny Wilkinson, the hero of England’s win in the 2003 tournament, said: “For the England squad do whatever helps the team and helps yourself.

“There are some things which clearly stand out to not working to that guideline.”

Published: Wednesday 10th June 2015 by The News Editor

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