HAVING REPRESENTED ENGLAND in three World Cups, Jeremy Guscott likely knows a thing or two about the centrality of discipline to an international squad’s morale and performance.
For this reason, his contribution to the debate surrounding England’s scandal-plagued World Cup carries with it a certain weight.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the former centre has expressed his frustration and dismay at the perceived “lack of respect” exhibited by some England players on tour in New Zealand.
“Martin Johnson’s got a few kids that aren’t acting as though they’re playing for England, or at a World Cup… It’s beyond belief, it is staggering.”
In addition to the now long-running saga of Mike Tindall’s alleged marital infidelity and the squad’s controversial attendance of the Queenstown Altitude Bar’s “Mad Midget Weekender” on the evening of its hard-fought victory over Argentina, it emerged last week that Dylan Hartley, James Haskell and Chris Ashton had been officially reprimanded for mistreatment of a hotel maid.
Guscott went on to cite Wales’ young captain, Sam Warburton, as an example England players would be wise to folllow. The 22-year-old flanker has abstained from alcohol since the conclusion of this year’s Six Nations in preparation for the World Cup.
“You’re representing your country, you’ve got the hopes and dreams of millions of rugby supporters back home and all they’re hearing is stories of messing about and drinking. It’s completely unacceptable.”
While most England players, from Mark Cueto to Richard Wigglesworth, have been content to blame the media and hypocrisy of ex-colleagues for their tabloid omnipresence, centre Shontayne Hape, responding to Guscott’s criticism, admitted the players involved let their teammates down.