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Tindall says RFU's punishment is still too harsh

Updated: November 29, 2011, 12:22

LONDON(AP) Mike Tindall still believes that English rugby's ruling body punished him too harshly for his infamous drinking session at the Rugby World Cup.

Tindall has been restored to the squad and had his fine reduced but said Tuesday that his punishment from the Rugby Football Union is still disproportionate.

"I am deeply disappointed by the way the RFU has chosen to handle the situation and I have felt throughout the disciplinary process that my case was made unnecessarily political and public by the RFU and that I ended up being made a scapegoat,'' Tindall said in a statement through the Rugby Players' Association.

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

The center was dropped from England's squad but later reinstated on appeal and had a fine reduced from 25,000 pounds ($40,000) to 15,000 pounds ($23,000).

"While I accept the decision made by the disciplinary appeal panel last night, I still maintain that the level of fine is not in line with other RFU disciplinary cases,'' Tindall said.

The 33-year-old vice captain had recently married Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter when photos and footage of the night emerged showing him in a compromising situation with another woman.

"I absolutely accept my share of responsibility for what happened in Queenstown and that I drank too much that night,'' Tindall said. "It unfortunately created a level of media interest which was an unwanted distraction for myself, my teammates, Martin Johnson and his staff. I can again only apologize unreservedly for this.''

The RFU has now accepted Tindall's insistence that he did not deliberately mislead officials when he told them - incorrectly - that he had gone back to the team hotel after leaving the bar. Tindall was too drunk to recall that he actually went to another bar.

"Yesterday's decision goes some way to reflect a fairer assessment of what actually happened during the World Cup,'' Tindall said. "It had been suggested that I intentionally misled people in relation to the events in Queenstown and I am pleased following this appeal process that it has been made clear that I did not do so.''

The Elite Player Squad is to be reviewed on Jan. 1, 2012, when Tindall's position will likely be under threat given his age and performances at the World Cup.

Martyn Thomas stepped down as acting chief executive of the RFU after being told Tuesday that he would not face a misconduct charge for his role in hiring and then quickly firing chief executive John Steele.

Thomas had been due to leave on Dec. 16 after he was criticized in a report by RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett, but made way early and was replaced as acting CEO by chief financial officer by Stephen Brown.

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