“While I accept the decision made by the disciplinary appeal panel last night I still maintain that the level of fine is not in line with other RFU disciplinary cases.
“I absolutely accept my share of responsibility for what happened in Queenstown and that I drank too much that night. It unfortunately created a level of media interest which was an unwanted distraction for myself, my teammates, Martin Johnson and his staff. I can again only apologise unreservedly for this.
“I am deeply disappointed by the way the RFU has chosen to handle the situation and I have felt throughout the disciplinary process that my case was made unnecessarily political and public by the RFU and that I ended up being made a scapegoat.
“Yesterday’s decision goes some way to reflect a fairer assessment of what actually happened during the World Cup. It had been suggested that I intentionally misled people in relation to the events in Queenstown and I am pleased following this appeal process that it has been made clear that I did not do so. I feel somewhat vindicated by the decision to reinstate me back into the Elite Player Squad.
“It is the ultimate honour to play for your country and I am proud and privileged to have done this for over 11 years. I have always put my heart and soul into playing for England.
“For now, my immediate focus is playing for Gloucester on Friday and I would like to thank the great team of people around me as well as the fans who have been hugely supportive. I would finally like to thank Damian Hopley and the RPA as well as Owen Eastwood at Lewis Silkin for the help and advice I received from them throughout what has been a difficult and frustrating time for me.”
Mike will make no additional comment at this time.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.