World Cup - RFU defends 'night with dwarves'
The Rugby Football Union has been forced on to the defensive after England's World Cup stars attracted controversy when being pictured seemingly worse for wear while enjoying what has been described as a "dwarf-throwing contest".
The Sun exposed the shenanigans on Monday morning, with team captain and the latest addition to the Royal Family, Mike Tindall, at the centre of allegations of a boozy night out.
England have already attracted unwanted scrutiny for manager Martin Johnson's decision to allow his players to relax following a somewhat unconvincing opening win over Argentina by indulging in a spot of bungee-jumping.
However, the England squad decided to let their hair down again on Sunday by attending 'Mad Midget Weekender: Leprechaun Wars' at Altitude Bar in Queenstown.
The venue has published a series of photos detailing the England team's night out, with Tindall joining the likes of Steve Thompson and Chris Ashton indulging in some horseplay with said dwarves.
The incident has attracted unwanted tabloid attention but the RFU has defended Tindall and his team-mates.
"Mike and several of the players were enjoying an evening out after he had led the team to a hard-earned victory over Argentina," said a team spokesman. "Like all the lads he plays for England with a massive amount of passion and he was relaxing after a tough match."
The manager of the bar has also insisted that nothing untoward occurred, despite the controversy that is brewing back home.
Rich Deane wrote on Facebook: "There was no dwarf throwing - that's just not cool! Secondly: there was no scandal by any of the English Rugby players that we saw!
"They were great lads, not throwing the midgets, it was all light-hearted, good-humored fun! This is the tabloids taking photos out of context and telling silly stories."