Come on rugby boys, make women proud on and off the pitch
What goes on on tour, stays on tour... that's the deal, right? When a load of blokes get together to do whatever blokes do, we women draw a delicate veil over the whole thing and try not to ask questions. That's unless there's the appearance of a love bite, a new tattoo or some unlikely undergarments in the laundry, of course.
In fairness, the code of conduct has worked pretty well over the years ... But what's been going on on tour with the English rugby team in New Zealand has been far from under the radar.
In fact, it's ended up on YouTube, and been splashed all over the tabloids; the debauched boozing in the night club, the groupies, the bare flesh, and, in particular, the bits that involve England captain and new royal groom, Mike Tindall.
What, no doubt, was meant to be a bit of a celebration, and a chance for the lads to let off steam, took on new a dimension when an employee of the club where all the action was happening decided to help himself to CCTV footage of Tindall and "a blonde" having a bit of, er, banter out behind the fire door.
The same footage has now ended up online for all the world, and the players' friends, mothers and WAGs to see, aghast.
Now, here's the rub ... we ladies all knew this sort of thing went on in rugby circles, some of us have even been known to join in the madness betimes, but we don't like to see our heroes completely lose the run of themselves in all its gritty, gory, ghastliness. Especially if we're not with them.
I guess rugby has had it lucky in modern times, unlike -- say -- football. Soccer stars are well used to cameras being poked up their noses while they are investigating under some floozy's skirt. Or puking into a champagne bucket. Or both, at the same time.
Over the years, footballers have had to take the rap for all that's tawdry apres match. Whereas our gentleman rugger buggers' nocturnal pursuits seem to have gone unnoticed. Until now.
Because, we're told, boys will be boys. But lads, how do you think that makes us women feel? We girls, who are so proud of you on the pitch, are becoming more appalled by what we're seeing once you're left to your own devices.
I don't know a single woman who didn't look at pictures of Mike Tindall's shenanigans without feeling sorry for his new bride, Zara Phillips. The same bride who went to bed solo the night of their wedding, while the groom partied on. She was pictured participating in an equestrian event in Cork after the story broke, head high and making no comment, but she must have felt miserable.
Because to all appearances, once the rugby is done, Tindall seems to put partying first, responsibility second. But he's part of a culture that's possibly always done the same.
Well, in modern times, where there's always a webcam, a camera phone and a bright blonde (or dodgy barman) willing to sell their story, perhaps it's time to be a little more circumspect with the debauchery. Because boys, guess what, while you're all off behaving like college kids, it hurts your female family, friends and fans like hell to have reality come back and bite us in the face.
It may all be (mostly) innocent fun down in New Zealand, but the pictures we're seeing don't exactly convince us of the fact. And it's not just the players ... fans have also been plastered over the papers as they celebrate the good times without much heed for what's on show.
So guys -- show some of the maturity you show on the pitch; and supporters -- show some of the loyalty you display on the terraces, and make sure we'll be happy to see you when you get back.
Melanie Morris is editor of image magazine