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Saturday 10 December 2016

England deny Danny Cipriani row nearly led to mutiny

Danny Cipriani was involved in a training ground altercation with Mike Catt
Danny Cipriani was involved in a training ground altercation with Mike Catt

England have denied their squad was close to mutiny over a training ground bust-up involving Danny Cipriani and Mike Catt.

It has been confirmed by the World Cup hosts that a flashpoint - described as a "robust conversation" - erupted between the fly-half and attacking skills coach on the day before the squad was announced in August.

Cipriani was disappointed at having learned the previous evening that he was to be omitted from the final 31 after George Ford and Owen Farrell were selected as the chief playmakers.

When the 26-year-old failed to perform a drill in the manner requested by Catt, a row ensued, which reportedly almost led to a more serious breakdown within the squad.

England crashed out of the World Cup with a 33-13 defeat to Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, in the process becoming the first host nation to fail to reach the quarter-finals.

The fall-out has been predictably brutal as the ruins of a moment being described as the darkest hour in Red Rose history are examined for clues as to why the unthinkable has come to pass.

England have offered a strong defence to claims that backs coach Andy Farrell had too much influence over selection and tactics, particular in the recall of his son Owen at the expense of Ford for the critical games against Wales and Australia.

England's performance will be the subject of an internal review by the RFU once Saturday's final Pool A match against Uruguay has been played. The future of Stuart Lancaster and his assistants are in grave doubt.

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