Cipriani World Cup rugby hopes in peril after drink drive arrest
Controversial Sale star involved in car crash hours after starring for England at Twickenham
England rugby star Danny Cipriani's World Cup hopes hang in the balance after he was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving at 5am the day after starring for his country against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
The 27-year-old fly-half put in a man-of-the-match performance on Sunday, scoring 33 points with two tries and a flawless kicking performance, as England crushed the Baa-Baas 73-12. But hours later he was arrested after a car crash in west London. No-one was injured in the collision but Cipriani was reportedly taken to Fulham police station before being released on bail.
Cipriani made his debut for England as a precociously talented 20 year old in 2008, but has earned only 12 caps since then thanks to a combination of injuries, off-field issues and an attempt to relaunch his career in Australia.
A talented sportsman who could have played football or cricket rather than rugby, Cipriani's career has been dogged by controversy. His England debut in 2008 was delayed by a week after he was dropped for "inappropriate behaviour" after being pictured leaving a nightclub the day before the match. During his season in Australia with the Queensland Reds in 2011 he was fined and dropped for ill-discipline on several occasions. And in 2013 he was struck by a bus during a pub crawl.
He was also involved in a high-profile relationship with model and TV presenter Kelly Brook.
Now playing for Sale, Cipriani appeared to have worked his way back into England contention this season and was included in the provisional 50-man squad for the World Cup.
But "this latest off-field incident will leave England head coach Stuart Lancaster with a fresh concern", says the Daily Telegraph.
Lancaster appears to have adopted a zero-tolerance policy with his players as England seek to avoid a repeat of their disastrous 2011 World Cup campaign, which was dogged by negative headlines.
"The England head coach... has previously dropped players from his squad after drink-driving offences," notes The Times. "In 2012, Danny Care was let go after being charged with drink-driving."
He may also feel obliged to take action, having already done so against other players. "Lancaster will certainly not welcome news of more alleged ill-discipline among his potential world cup players. Dylan Hartley and Manu Tuilagi have already been told that they will not be selected for the tournament as punishment for, respectively, headbutting a fellow player and assaulting two police officers."