‘Look, I have to drop you’

Former England flyhalf Danny Cipriani has recounted how he was infamously dropped on the eve of an England match due to being photographed outside a London nightclub.

Cipriani was ‘papped’ outside a Mayfair nightclub in 2008 at 2.30 a.m. on a Thursday morning before he was due to play for England on the weekend. Players had been allowed out from England camp provided they slept in their own beds.

However, when Cipriani made the front page of a number of English red tops, then head coach Brian Ashton felt he had no option but to drop the maverick star.

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“From 16 the media started writing about me, about this golden boy and you’d love being spoken about nicely, you feel some value from that. I didn’t get that from my parents, I’d get it from my coaches, from external sources. For me it filled my cup up a bit more,” Cipriani told the Under the Surface podcast.

“Then I was going to go and play for England on the Saturday, on the Wednesday after physio I dropped off my friend who was in a nightclub, I was in there for 10 or 15 minutes and was home just after 12, but I was snapped on my way out and it was on the front page of all the papers the next day and the England coach at the time Brian, who I’m still friends with to this day and he was fantastic – Brian Ashton – said to me ‘Look, I have to drop you, I can’t select you’.

“I don’t know if his arm was twisted by the RFU, but rugby is a sport of looking to try and do the right thing, they want to hold that façade of doing the right thing rather that what is actually true and what matters, realising that it was only a minor incident doesn’t matter – they want to hold the image of who they are. Holding on to an image, as I’ve learned through my life journey, is only going to cause you more distress, hence why the sport is in distress at the minute with everything that is happening at the minute.

“It was what it was [the media attention], and I experienced those times and those difficulties. At 22, I felt like I didn’t want to be here tomorrow, I didn’t want to see the next day, I didn’t see any way out with the way I was being spoken about and being treated. I’d walk down the street and if someone looked at me, I’d presume it was negative thought, I’d presume all these things. I got to a point where it was a very dark place and I felt like I wanted to take my own life.

“That never transpired but the way the media speak, the words they used, the way they judge and critique – I had a friend [Caroline Flack] of mine who did take her own life and she did go down that route. When it comes down to being fair, it’s not necessarily whether it’s fair or not, the hounding and the way they behave; it’s unjust. Ultimately, Caroline was such a beautiful human being and the way they spoke about her, you see it hasn’t changed now the way they handle situations.”

The death of close friend and former partner Caroline Flack had a major impact on…

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Read More: ‘Look, I have to drop you’ 2023-09-18 11:47:12

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