No decision on England drink ban

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Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster is yet to consider implementing a curfew or ban his players from drinking as the Rugby World Cup looms large.

Leicester centre Manu 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.

Sale fly-half Danny Cipriani was arrested on suspicion of drink driving earlier this month and must wait until early August to discover the outcome of a police investigation.

Both incidents took place in the early hours of the morning.

Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley, meanwhile, was banned for four weeks for headbutting Saracens hooker Jamie George and was omitted.

The squad gathered on Monday when Lancaster addressed them ahead of a potentially momentous home World Cup, which begins at Twickenham against Fiji on September 18.

“The players know their responsibilities and the consequence of poor behaviour and poor decisions,” Lancaster said.

“I will be very disappointed if we have to deal with any more of these things.

“But we haven’t talked about any specific ban in any shape or form.”

For the time being Cipriani remains part of Lancaster’s initial 50-man squad for the tournament, which will be cut to 31.

“He rang me at the time to explain what had happened, that he had been involved in an accident and taken to the police station and released without charge,” Lancaster added.

“He said he is due to go back and I said let’s wait and see what happens at that point.

“Players do have accidents in cars. There is nothing more to say until I know if there is anything he has done wrong in the eyes of the law.

“He had had a great game for the Barbarians and was on his way to get packed to go to the airport and this incident occurred. He was concerned as his first port of call was to ring me.”

The uncertainty over Cipriani is of little concern to Lancaster.

“It’d be a bigger headache if the decision was in early September, but we’ll know early August,” he said.

“The first real decision on selection will not come until the week before the first France game (on August 15 at Twickenham).”

Lancaster plans to take around 45 players to the high-altitude training camp in Denver, Colorado next month.

David Strettle will not be among them after withdrawing to prepare for life with Clermont Auvergne after his move to the French Top 14 from Saracens.

Strettle’s decision was announced on day one of the camp, but the competition on the wings and his move across The Channel meant his selection may have been unlikely anyway.

The wing may have been influenced by previous comments from the head coach.

“I said with a 50-50 call then I am more likely to go with a guy who is likely to be around long-term. I suspect he did read those, yes,” Lancaster added.

The core of the final squad is in Lancaster’s mind, but he says all 50 have an opportunity to earn a place for the home tournament and he will rely largely on internal competition in his decision making.

“The competitiveness that we’ll make in training will ultimately give us a lot of the answers we’ll need,” Lancaster said.

England beat France 55-35 in their most recent match in March, but fell agonisingly short of winning the RBS 6 Nations on points difference.

Lancaster has watched England’s cricketers and footballers change tact since their disappointing World Cups.

But there are differences between the sports and the gung-ho approach seen against France is unlikely to be witnessed in the World Cup.

“The cricketers have found a freedom in playing without fear which has resulted in a hugely positive mindset change,” he said.

“I also feel the England footballers have done that as well after the World Cup.

“I don’t subscribe to the idea that we want to play with an abandon so we get 55-35 every week. I’d like the 55, not the 35.

“I made the point to the players; our objective is not to wait till after the World Cup.

“We’ve got to go to this World Cup with a real positive mindset.

“I think the home tournament will lift them but it’s down to us as coaches to make sure we lift them and liberate them a bit.”

Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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