England and Harelquins scrum-half Danny Care has been removed from consideration for Stuart Lancaster’s provisional Six Nations squad after failing a drink driving test in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Care was stopped and breathalysed en route to a house where he is believed to have been meeting a former girlfriend. It is thought that he came in at twice the legal limit.
Lancaster made his way down from Leeds on January 2 to meet with Care and Harlequins’ director of rugby Conor O’Shea and, clearly deciding to nip any ill-discipline in the bud, England Rugby’s new interim head coach acted decisively.
It is the second time that the player has been reprimanded for alcohol-related incidents in the past month, following Care’s arrest in December, and has also resulted in a “substantial” fine from his club.
With Richard Wigglesworth in the middle of a lengthy injury absence and Joe Simpson still inexperienced to the tune of a single Rugby World Cup cap, the situation also leaves England in something of a pickle over the scrum-half berth.
In a statement responding to his exclusion, Care said: "I do accept that I made a very bad decision on the evening in question and need to take the punishment that the courts hand out. I have decided not to contest the charge as I want to bring this to a close swiftly rather than have it hanging over my head for a year or more.
"I would stress, though, that at no time did I think I had drunk enough to be over the legal limit. However, I should not have got into the car and have to accept the consequences of that action.
"I am devastated not to be selected for the Elite Player Squad for the Six Nations as I felt I had been playing near the top of my game with Quins. However, I wish the team, and the other number nines who come in to play, the best of luck as playing for your country is the highest honour in the game and I will miss it hugely. It's now up to me to get my head down, keep playing well and learn from my actions.
"Quins and Stuart have been very supportive and I totally accept their sanctions. I do understand the need for England players to be role models in the game and have tried to live up to that at all times, but have made a couple of stupid decisions in the past weeks.
"I can only hope for the chance in the future to prove those decisions were the exception not the rule. I am devastated because my actions have let so many people down."