The England rugby team are again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after their star player jumped from a moving ferry in Auckland Harbour yesterday.

Centre Manu Tuilagi was the culprit, leaping from the craft and swimming ashore as it was about to berth after returning from a trip to Waiheke Island, 35 minutes out of Auckland.

While there were shouts of encouragement from passengers on the

ferry, the police were not amused and Tuilagi was haule off to Auckland

Central police station.

He could have been charged with disorderly conduct, but was given a warning and allowed to return to the team hotel.

Tuilagi was last night fined £3000 by the Rugby Football Union.

England manager Martin Johnson said: “This was an irresponsible thing

to do. Manu has been disciplined internally and I have warned him about

his future conduct.”

Tuilagi, who had already copped a £5000 fine for wearing an mouthguard wih unapproved advertising during pool play at the Rugby World Cup, was quick to apologise.

“I’m really sorry,” he said. “It was a silly thing to do and I apologise to everybody for any inconvenience caused.”

Officials of Fullers, the company that operates the ferry said the incident was “extremely dangerous”.

Spokesman Warren Fowler said: “The ferry had made a turn and was about to reverse to its berth when this happened.

“It could have been tragic with vessels coming in here and someone

jumping off the back of a vessel when it is going to be reversing


Tuilagi’s misdemeanour came shortly after England were knocked out of the Cup by France at the quarter-final stage – a game in which he was widely regarded as England’s best player.

It has been a horrible tournament for England.  Apart from a series of average performances on the field, they have had to deal with allegations captain Mike Tindall cheated on his wife, Zara Phillips; three players being accused of making lewd suggestions to a Dunedin hotel worker; the suspension of two players for dangerous play; and the suspension of two coaches over ball-switching against Romania.

While England now make their way home, all eyes are now on the semi-finals: Wales v France on Saturday and New Zealand v Australia on Sunday.