Some rugby players achieved more than others in 2011. Some rugby players also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in 2011. Welcome to Rugby Rugby's 2011 happy hour!
From missing team photos, to bust-ups with teammates, to being bounced from a McDonald's (yes, true story!)... to drinking just 72 hours before an important World Cup quarterfinal match - 2011 delivered some pearlers in terms of bad behaviour.
(And, no, we haven't even touched on the various England misdemeanours yet!)
Ladies and gents, in no particular order, we bring you rugby's happy hour contenders for 2011:
(1) Mike Tindall (England):
Having recently married into royalty - and also captaining his country at the World Cup, as squad captain Lewis Moody rested a dodgy knee - Mike Tindall would have been the last guy one would have expected to hit the headlines for his off-field exploits in New Zealand.
From talks of dwarf-tossing, watersports (nudge, nudge... wink, wink), to meeting a mysterious blonde woman at the bar... Tindall's bar-room exploits made more headlines than his team's disappointing quarterfinal loss to France.
It very nearly cost him a place in England's Elite Players Squad... but it cost his manager Martin Johnson and time will tell whether the 2003 World Cup winner will, in fact, play for his country again.
(2) Danny Cipriani (England):
Danny Cipriani's high-profile move to Super Rugby franchise, the Rebels, was a seemingly last-gasp effort for the trouble playmaker to impress England boss Martin Johnson ahead of the World Cup.
Sadly for Cipriani - who had already attracted a fair bit of attention for his behaviour in England - he found himself in hot water twice in Australia; from stealing booze behind a bar to breaking a team curfew.
Imagine if he had been part of England's RWC squad? Jeesh... Watch out Frank Ricard from Old School!
(3) Zac Guildford (New Zealand):
Guildford's drinking woes troubled him throughout 2011, with him admitting during the World Cup that he had a problem with booze.
Sadly, his latest off-field exploits - which involved a binge in the Cook Islands last month - proved that the 22-year-old does, indeed, have a serious problem.
Thankfully the NZRU look to be standing by their man who has pledged to give up drinking in a bid to save his career.
(4) Cory Jane (New Zealand) and Israel Dagg (also NZ):
Whilst Guildford's problems were serious enough to warrant help from his employers at the NZRU, Jane showed himself to be something of a Van Wilder in training when he and injured teammate Israel Dagg went on the razzle 72 hours ahead of the All Blacks' quarterfinal meeting with Argentina.
Dagg was nursing an injury and was not in the matchday 22, but Jane was named to start at No.14 and retained in the starting line-up - despite being bust on his night out. (A spate of injuries to the NZ back three might just have saved him, however.)
According to anonymous patrons quoted by the New Zealand Herald newspaper, Dagg and Jane were swaying and slurring their words, with witnesses adding Jane had lit a cigarette in contravention of a law banning smoking in pubs.
But what did Jane do three days later?
He played a blinder as the Kiwis beat Argentina 33-10 in their quarterfinal clash - also winning the official RWC Man of the Match against the Wallabies the following week.
New Zealand slam Jane's 'booze binge'
(5) James O'Connor (Australia):
Justin Bieber's twin brother chose the wrong night to hit the town when he ended up over-sleeping and missing the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup squad announcement.
He was promptly disciplined by Wallabies boss Robbie Deans - which saw him suspended for one Tri-Nations match and, as a result, benched for his country's RWC opener - but he was soon back in the Australian starting line-up, so one could say no major harm was done.
It was not, however, his first walk on the wild side - having been involved in a hushed up food fight (yes, that's not a mistake - it was a fight with food!) during an end-of-year tour in 2009.
(6) Mike Phillips (Wales):
Like England's Cipriani, Phillips has also had his fair share of bad press in recent years.
And it nearly led to him missing the World Cup after being suspended from his country's RWC training squad for a drunk-fuelled incident at a McDonald's in Cardiff in June.
(Phillips was hospitalised in 2008 after being attacked outside a Cardiff nightclub and he was arrested in 2009 after a 3am bust up with a taxi driver - ed.)
However, to Phillips's credit not only did he make it to the World Cup, but he was one of Wales's star players - particularly in the quarterfinals and semifinals - as the Welsh Dragons came within a whisker of making a first-ever RWC Final.
(7) Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu (Samoa):
Welsh referee Nigel Owens felt the ire of Fuimaono-Sapolu's drunk-fuelled tweets during the World Cup, after the Islanders went down 5-13 to the Boks in a physical pool match in Albany.
"I can understand the hate!! Haha good luck u racist biased prick," tweeted the 30-year-old after that match which produced a series of nasty Samoan-style hits, with him adding: "I'm proud to be Samoan! Irb, my bum, kiss it!"
Fuimaono-Sapolu admitted to having had a few 'pepsis' after his Owen-aimed tweet, but just a few days earlier he had - via Twitter - compared the World Cup to "slavery", "apartheid" and even the "holocaust".
(8) The French rugby team:
Question: Which team defied their coach at the World Cup and went out drinking after their semifinal win?
(Clue, it was NOT England!)
That's right folks, England did not even make the semifinals... and their coach didn't mind them being out on the town during the tournament either. (With the RFU even lending a hand with the tab!)
It was France, of course, as the players defied coach Marc Lievremont and went out drinking after their 9-8 semifinal win over Wales.
An irate Lievremont half-joked afterwards: "We spoke about (why they went out) and it is really not that important. In the end a cigarette, a dessert after dinner or a couple of drinks will not affect how you play in the final."
(9) Gavin Henson (Wales):
Cipriani... Phillips... and Henson.
What do they have in common?? Is it even a question worth asking?
Having caused a fair bit of trouble in his native Wales, Henson spent time with English club Saracens this season - after coming out of 'retirement' - and then transferred to French Top 14 club Toulon.
Neither lasted long... but his time at Toulon will be remembered for a drunken bust-up with England's Jonny Wilkinson, having reportedly told the 2003 World Cup winner that he wasn't the best player in the world.
Despite Wilkinson saying afterwards that "the boys will be fine with Gavin", Henson was released from Toulon just three weeks later.
Colourful Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal told AFP: "We do not want to blame anyone, but for next season we hope that team spirit is a priority."
(10) Manu Tuilagi (England):
The 2011 Rugby World Cup will go down as one of England rugby's darkest few weeks.
From Mike Tindall-gate, to the chambermaid in a hotel-room... to young Manu Tuilagi jumping from a ferry before it had docked.
It led to Manu - having been fined for wearing a branded mouthguard during the tournament - being arrested and fined £3,000 by the RFU.
A few weeks later, Leicester Tigers lock Louis Deacon admitted to the Leicester Mercury newspaper: "We were all there, all the Leicester boys. He knows he did wrong and it's his age, he's young.
"But we probably should have stopped him from doing it. It was a bit of banter, which we never believed was going to happen until it did."
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