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Cipriani: The 5 player clique that ran England 'like the Mafia'

By Ian Cameron
George Ford (L) walks onto the pitch with team mate Owen Farrell looks on during the England training session at Pennyhill Park on September 22, 2015 in Bagshot, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England flyhalf Danny Cipriani has complained of scheming within the 2015 training camp that preceded the ill-fated Rugby World Cup campaign of 2015.


Stuart Lancaster’s side infamously failed to make it out of the pool stages of their own tournament, a campaign that Cipriani played no part in.

Now Cipriani in his explosive new autobiography – ‘Who Am I?’ – he has named four of the current England squad as running a Mafia-like leadership group during the tournament in an extract from his new book which is being serialised in The Sunday Times and The Sun.

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The former England playmaker names a ‘clique’ that includes current England players Owen Farrell, George Ford, Dan Cole and Ben Youngs; all whom allegedly controlled the squad dynamic under Lancaster.

Although initially he thought he got on with the players, Cipriani writes that he found out he was persona non-grata following a Whats App back and forth while in camp.

Danny Cipriani

“A clique of players helps run the team: Owen Farrell, George Ford, Chris Robshaw, Dan Cole, Ben Youngs, a couple of others.


“They’re called “the leadership group”, but more like the mafia, always appearing to be scheming.

“Still, I get on fine with most of them. At least I think I do.

“Sam’s [Burgess] in a WhatsApp group with the mafia, until one day, he posts a picture on Instagram of me and him in a coffee shop. A few hours later, George screenshots the picture and messages it to Sam, before removing him from the group.

“Sam couldn’t care less but I’m not sure what I’ve done to offend them. Clearly I’m not as welcome as I thought I was.”


Cipriani was dropped by Lancaster, despite picking up a man of the match award in a Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Argentina.


“You copped out, mate,” Cipriani told Lancaster after he was axed.  “You never even played me at No10. But I did all I could and I respect your decision.”

He also recounts his side of the story when he fell out with attack coach Mike Catt, shortly after learning of his non selection for the tournament while still in training camp.

“I’ve just been told I’m not in the World Cup squad and now I’m pushing a heavy sled around the field. It’s as dumb as it gets, but I’m mucking in. Suddenly, attack coach Mike Catt screams, “For f***’s sake, Danny, put your back into it!”

“I don’t say anything, but I think, What the f*** is his problem? Catt’s had beef with me for years.

“He’s slagged me off in the papers, called me a liability and once whacked me around the head when I was playing for Wasps and he was playing for London Irish. At the final whistle I refused to shake his hand and his team-mates accused me of being a d***head.

Danny Cipriani gets some kicking coaching from Mike Catt during the England Rugby Training Session at Pennyhill Park on January 27, 2015 in Bagshot, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

“But as far as I was concerned, it was all water under the bridge. I get back to pushing this sled and a couple of minutes later, Catt comes at me again: “F***ing hell, Danny, is that the best you can do?”

“I stop what I’m doing, give him my best “don’t you f***ing speak to me like that” stare and get back to pushing, but my heart’s not in it.

“They’ve just told me I’m not playing in the World Cup and now this w***** is taking the p*** out of me.

“It happens again — “F***ing shit, Danny, work harder!” — this time I’ve had enough.

“I walk straight towards him, get in his face and say, “Have you got something to say to me, Mike Catt?”

“He starts stuttering, before screaming in my face, spittle flying everywhere, “As long as I’m involved, you’ll never play for England again!”

You can read the full article HERE.


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Brian 285 days ago

For some reason, most incoming coaches cede control to so called influential leaders on a team, unless they rebuilt the team themselves from the ground up, like Rassie did. Hence Eddie had a problem dropping Farrell and Ford completely and opted to move Farrell to 1st centre and keep toying around the Ford/Smith option. Now they’re toying with Smith at fullback. Same malaise caught Fossie - won’t/can’t drop Sam Caine or Jordie Barrett. England is chock full of talent. Just needs a coach with cajones to come in and do the necessary. It’s why Reece Zammit declined to play for England and why Paolo Odogu took his talents to Italy. Those two would have been killer wings on the England roster. Now, they’re plying their skills elsewhere. And they are better for it.

Ben 287 days ago

Cipriani was a real talent, bit like Finn Russell. I believe England still have the same problems with "leadership" group. More difficult to get out the team than in.

KiwiSteve 288 days ago

A real warts n' all biography. Fair play. He must be in the right headspace to reveal all and it's more than a pretty wild. I think Mike Catt comes out as a right c*** as serialised in the Times today. What is his problem? I don't get it. You have this prodigy and you spend your time trying to destroy him. Don't get it. Low quality individual and karma will reap what that loser sows.

Bob Marler 288 days ago

Not surprised to see Farrell’s name in that.

Leon 288 days ago

Loved Cips cameo a few years after his dropping to get the only win over SA in that 2-1 series loss for England. Maybe if they were a bit more open minded that final could've gone differently

tom 288 days ago

Such arrogance in the England team and coaching set up

Poe 288 days ago

He's right. England did cop out on giving him a decent shot at ten.

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