Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Rugby Stars Kick Booze into Touch

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Rugby Stars Kick Booze into Touch

Article excerpt

Byline: Miranda Bryant

ENGLAND rugby's rising star George Ford says the team have been enjoying the luxury facilities at their fivestar Surrey hotel base but are steering clear of the bar.

Although there is no official team alcohol ban, the 22-year-old fly-half said discipline was so ingrained in the squad that "no one is interested" in drinking.

It is a stark contrast to England's failed Rugby World Cup campaign in New Zealand in 2011 which was marred by reports of bad behaviour and raucous nights out including dwarf-throwing and taunts that left a female hotel worker in tears. Manu Tuilagi, who was dropped from the England squad after he was convicted of assaulting two female police officers this year, was forced to apologise and fined PS3,000 by England after being held by police for jumping off a ferry as it arrived in dock in Auckland.

Ford insists the 2015 squad, who face Fiji on Friday week in the opening game of the event, have their eyes firmly fixed on the prize and are not interested in spending time at the bar or in pubs near the Pennyhill Park hotel in Bagshot.

Posing with team-mates Brad Barritt and Billy Vunipola for an ES Magazine photoshoot in their Canterbury kit, he said: "We know what is expected of us. We don't speak much about the discipline in the last World Cup. It is pretty much ingrained that this squad is quite good at being disciplined throughout tournaments now."

He has been making weekly trips back to Bath, where he plays club rugby, to see his girlfriend Jess Portman and family and has also been enjoying the facilities at their base such as the nine-hole golf course and spa trips but added: "Not, like, getting pampered or anything."

On the subject of drinking, he said: "Not much has really been spoken about it. None of the lads want to [drink], no one is interested.

"It's not officially banned, but you would be pretty stupid to start drinking mid-pre-season.

You are trying to get in the best shape possible, so you can't really abuse your body like that. …

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