Players' union chief defends England rugby players over money slurs

The head of the Rugby Players' Association (RPA) insists England's players are not motivated by money.

Three confidential reports into England's World Cup campaign in New Zealand were leaked to The Times.

One senior player reportedly described their failure to reach the semi-finals as "£35,000 down the toilet".

"To disparage them as money-orientated and greedy is completely without foundation," RPU chief executive Damian Hopley said.

"It is a very unfortunate remark. Unfortunately that comment has been picked up and used across the piece, but it's not a fair reflection of the squad as a whole."

Hopley revealed his members were "absolutely furious" at what he claimed was a breach of confidence - and offered his full support to Lewis Moody, England's World Cup captain, who has since retired from international rugby.

"The players have been caught up in the darkest day for rugby union in this country," Hopley added.

"I would particularly like to defend Lewis Moody, who has been cast in a very unfavourable light.

"To label him as a money-grabbing professional is wholly without foundation and unfair.

"We've taken a body blow. This has been a dismal campaign and I think it's important we move forward."

Hopley's comments came on the day that Moody's fine by the Rugby Football Union for breaching commerical rules during the World Cup was reduced to £7,500.

He and Courtney Lawes were last month fined £10,000 each for wearing branded mouth guards in the quarter-final defeat by France, but those punishments have been reduced on appeal. Lawes' fine was cut to £6,500.

An RFU statement read: "He (Moody) along with all other players need to realise their responsibilities and act in accordance with commercial guidelines."