In Brief

Danny Cipriani: what now for the England rugby star?

Opinion split on whether Jersey nightclub fracas should spell the end for fly half

England rugby star Danny Cipriani has apologised for his “unacceptable” behaviour after pleading guilty to common assault and resisting arrest following a fracas in a Jersey nightclub.

The 30-year-old was fined £2,000 by magistrates and cut a remorseful figure after being released from custody on Thursday.

And as he once again strives to rebuild his reputation the debate over his future as an England, and indeed club, rugby star is raging.

Cipriani has been in the public eye for a decade, but his career has been dominated by off-field incidents.

He has been involved in training ground bust ups, broken curfews and even been fined for stealing a bottle of vodka from a nightclub.

In 2013 he was hit by a bus while on a night out with his team, in 2016 he was convicted of drink driving and now he has another court case under his belt.

“His ability to command unwanted headlines, to follow a step forward with two back, is matched only by his undeniable talent,” says Gerard Meagher of The Guardian.

“His career is so littered with off-field indiscretions it is easy to wonder if there is an element of self‑destruction to him.”

England coach Eddie Jones must now make a decision on Cipriani, who had forced himself back into the England team this summer, and impressed in South Africa.

“If there is any hint of the coach looking for an excuse to omit the fly-half, his England days are over,” says Meagher. 

But the incident was trivial and should not have a bearing on his career, says Stuart Barnes in The Times.

“This was a next-to-nothing case, which would have gone unreported had Cipriani not been involved.

“Cipriani is a juicy story, a person who is as interesting to the general public off the field as on it. His looks and lifestyle have delivered England their only bona fide tabloid rugby player.”

The fly-half brings a lot to the England camp and should be retained.

“Thirteen months out from the World Cup is not the time for moralising,” says Barnes. “No one will remember Danny’s 13 minutes in court if he plays a part in a successful World Cup next year.”

But he should not get the chance, says Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph.

The “grubby altercation” in Jersey reads like “the worst ever episode of Bergerac”, and England coach Jones “should stay true to his previous promise to ditch Cipriani if the fly-half appeared on the front pages for any reasons other than rugby”.

Jones attaches great value to his players’ strength of character, notes Brown. “It is a test that Cipriani, succumbing to outside temptation with such ease, has signally failed.”

One former England coach, Sir Clive Woodward, has no doubt about what to do. “Enough is enough,” he says in the Daily Mail.

Cipriani just can’t help shooting himself in the foot and that means he has no future with England.

“If an incident like this occurred during the World Cup next year, it would cost England the tournament. You have to trust every player on and off the pitch, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” says Woodward.

“Can Cipriani be trusted by Eddie and the rest of the England team who are also under scrutiny but remain disciplined in their personal lives and behaviour? I suspect Eddie will now decide that he can't and who could blame him?”

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