September 26, 2020

“Rugby player drinks beer, shocker”

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England manager Martin Johnson

England manager Martin Johnson has defended his players after some were pictured drinking following the 13-9 win over Argentina.

The Sun newspaper in the UK featured photos of captain Mike Tindall, Chris Ashton, Toby Flood and Dylan Hartley in a bar in Queenstown.

“You have got to relieve the pressure and let off steam at the right time,” said Johnson. “It was a good idea.

“I don’t want to have to lock people away and not let them out.”

England had already come in for criticism when several players used a day off on Monday to go bungee jumping and white-water rafting, a decision which Johnson also moved to defend.

The Sun then printed pictures taken on Sunday of Tindall, Ashton, Flood and Hartley, as well as making allegations about Tindall’s conduct.

But Johnson dismissed the controversy, wisecracking “Rugby player drinks beer, shocker.

“I don’t feel my trust has been betrayed. We knew they were going out to have a few beers.

“I had no problem with them doing that. We all know when you have a rugby team that part of it is the bonding off the field.

“If there is a complaint and someone says one of your players has acted inappropriately then we will act on it.”

Back on the pitch England face World Cup minnows Georgia in Dunedin on Sunday.

But first Ireland take on a tougher challenge Saturday when they face Australia in Auckland.

Ireland lock Paul O’Connell accepts they are firm underdogs.

He said: “On form Australia are a long way ahead of us at the moment. They have threats all over the field and we have to starve them of quality ball.

“For us to win, we need a massive performance. In Irish teams, when our emotion and passion is high, we’re a better side.

“Hopefully that will be there in abundance on Saturday. When we put it together for 80 minutes, we are an excellent side that can compete with anyone.”

Wales also play Saturday, against Somoa in Hamilton.

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