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Tindall back in England elite squad after appeal

Updated: November 28, 2011, 16:23


LONDON(AP) Mike Tindall was restored to England's "Elite Player Squad'' on Monday after appealing against his punishment for a now infamous night out during the Rugby World Cup.

The 33-year-old center also had a fine reduced from 25,000 pounds ($40,000) to 15,000 pounds ($23,000).

Tindall was disciplined over his behavior during a drunken night out on Sept. 11 in Queenstown, New Zealand following a group game against Argentina.

The husband of Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, was caught on a security camera holding a blonde woman's hand and receiving a kiss on the top of his head.

As the RFU attempted to calm a growing media storm over the images, Tindall misled officials by telling them he had gone back to the team hotel after leaving the bar when he had actually gone on to another bar.

RFU acting chief executive Martyn Thomas said in a statement released Monday he accepted there were "mitigating factors'' that were not sufficiently taken into account when the original judgment was made.

"Mike did not intentionally mislead the RFU team management when he stated that he could not remember where he was on the night of Sept. 11, and that he was relying on other people's versions of events which were relayed to him,'' Thomas said.

Thomas also highlighted Tindall's "deep regret'' and that there was "no evidence of any suggestion of sexual impropriety of any nature with the woman in question and we accept the fact that she is a family friend who he has known for a long time.''

However, Thomas stressed that Tindall, part of England's World Cup-winning team in 2003, was not entirely blameless.

"We believe Mike's behavior fell way below that to be expected of somebody of his caliber and experience,'' he said. "He exposed himself to a very compromising position and exposed the rest of the team to damaging publicity.''

A disastrous World Cup tournament for England ended in a dismal quarterfinal loss to France.

The Elite Player Squad is to be reviewed on Jan. 1, 2012 when Tindall's position will again come under scrutiny, particularly given his age and recent performances by England.

"This decision does not prevent those deciding the composition of the Elite Player Squad from taking into account this incident when making that decision,'' Thomas said.

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