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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Zara's agony: Devastating video of her rugby captain husband Mike cavorting with a nightclub blonde is leaked on internet

-CCTV films shows buxom girl pulling his face towards her bosom
-England's newlywed captain rapped for 'unbecoming behaviour'
-His bride Zara tries to keep her composure amid scandal

By Richard Shears, Nick Fagge and Rebecca English

Long faces: Zara Phillips looks pained, pictured at the International Horse Trials at Watergrasshill in County Cork, Ireland. Later, however, her mood did brighten and she managed a smile

The strain was etched on Zara Phillips’s face yesterday just hours after video footage of her new husband cosying up to a pretty fan emerged.

The images, from CCTV cameras at a rowdy New Zealand bar where England rugby players partied on Sunday, clearly show captain Mike Tindall kissing the blonde and leaving with her.

It was claimed yesterday that the girl is a friend of the couple who attended their wedding. Despite desperate attempts by the England camp to play down the players’ wild night out, the leaked recording instantly became a worldwide internet sensation.

Although his behaviour was initially dismissed as just ‘boisterous horseplay’, Tindall, 32, can be seen hugging and groping the woman as they knock back shots of cheap vodka at the Altitude bar in Queenstown.

It had also initially been suggested that the pair did not leave the bar together, but the newly released video also puts paid to that.

Tindall can plainly be seen taking the female partygoer by the hand and pulling her across the dancefloor towards the exit.

From that point, the colour footage changes to black and white film from different CCTV cameras positioned around the bar’s entrance.

As they stand by the doors, the pair openly cuddle before the woman pulls Tindall towards her chest and kisses his shaven head.

Headlock: The mystery blonde pulls Mike Tindall's shaven head towards her bosom at the Altitude club in New Zealand where some England team-mates relaxed

Cuddle: Tindall is seen on CCTV putting his arm round the girl at the nightclub in New Zealand

Hugger: World Cup captain Tindall closes in on the mystery blonde as he heads towards the exit

Outside on the street she appears to make several half-hearted attempts to return inside to her friends, but the player puts her in an affectionate headlock to prevent her from doing so and pulls her towards him.

The pair then walk off out of shot, entwined in each other’s arms. Miss Phillips, 30, continued to decline to comment about the scandal yesterday but friends insisted that the incident had ‘been blown out of all proportion’.

One source close to the Queen’s granddaughter, who has been married for just six weeks, claimed the woman was ‘a friend’ of the couple and had even been a guest at their wedding in July.

‘She is a friend of both Mike and Zara and has known Mike since university days,’ they said.

Touching: Tindall gets up front and personal with the buxom blonde at the bar

Face to face: Another girl and Tindall have an intimate chat at the bar where later he was seen cuddling her blonde friend

Flirting: Tindall and the girl at the bar where the England captain and team-mates had gone to relax after they beat Argentina in their first World Cup match

‘She is an English girl living in Australia who was at their wedding. Zara is very relaxed about all this and the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion.’

It is understood that Miss Phillips has spoken to her husband about the incident and still plans to join him in New Zealand, where England are competing in the Rugby World Cup, later this month.

Another source, who claimed to have spoken to Zara personally, claimed she had dismissed the entire furore as ‘irrelevant’.

‘She has no problem whatsoever with anything Mike has done,’ they maintained.

But as she competed at the Johnson & Perrott Land Rover International Horse Trials at Watergrasshill near Cork, Ireland, Miss Phillips, a world champion three-day eventer who has hopes of representing her country in the Olympics next year, appeared under stress.

Scrum: New Royal and England rugby captain Mike Tindall grabs Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton as they party at the Altitude bar in New Zealand's south island

Pint-sized: England's Chris Ashton looks like he needs a hand as he parties with two dwarfs

Despite an almost flawless dressage routine on her horse, Lord Lauries, and a small smile to the crowd following her eight-minute routine, as she was driven away from the course on the back of an electric golf buggy she pulled down her hat and covered her face with her hand.

Tindall, who captained the team in their unconvincing win over Argentina last Saturday but is being rested this weekend, was among a group of more than half a dozen internationals that ended up in the grimy Altitude bar following a night of heavy drinking.

They included fullback Ben Foden, whose girlfriend, Una Healy, a singer with girlband The Saturdays, yesterday announced she was pregnant.

The group appeared to make the most of the nightspot’s £2 a shot vodka promotion and posed for photographs with girl fans as well as several dwarfs who had been hired to ‘entertain’ the drinkers as part of a ‘Midget Madness Weekend’ by running the length of the bar with a bungee rope attached to them. At an England team press conference yesterday, manager Martin Johnson continued to defend his players, Tindall in particular.

He said their antics were simply a case of the team ‘letting off steam’ the day after their first match, explaining: ‘[The] players said, “We’re going to go out for a beer on Sunday night” and I said, “Great idea”. You’ve got to relieve the pressure valve, let off steam, at the right time. In the pressure of a World Cup you’ve got to find those opportunities. I had no problem with them doing that.’

Asked whether he felt betrayed by their antics, he added: ‘No, I don’t. We knew the players were going to go out and have a few beers. People can report it how they want to report it. The guys are fully aware of their responsibilities. No one likes to be on the front page of papers but we know where the world is at the moment.

‘I’ve got a choice to lock them away and keep them out of the public in all forms or we get on and try to enjoy this tournament and be successful. I’d rather do that.

Mike knows his responsibilities. He fully understands that.
‘I’ve had my arms around 50 women in Queenstown aged from seven months to 77.

Everyone wants to get a piece of you and get their photograph taken with you.We either lock ourselves away and don’t talk to anyone or we try to enjoy the experience at the right time, in the right place and in the right way.

Mike Tindall in action during Saturday's match against Argentina, after which the skipper led the charge of a raucous night out

Keep trying: Dan Cole (left) and Steve Thompson enjoyed a night out at Altitude bar in Queenstown with other England stars

Cowboy: Louis Deacon poses with a dwarf dressed in a cowboy hat and the colours of the Irish flag painted on his face

‘If you want to lead that protected life you can live it. It’s up to Mike what he wants to do away from training and playing. I’m sure, Mike being Mike, he’ll want to get on with the rugby as quickly as possible.’

Tindall’s team-mate Chris Ashton, who was present in the bar, also defended their behaviour but admitted they needed to be ‘more careful’ in the future.

‘We had a night out and a day off. It does everyone a favour. It gives us all a laugh, makes everyone relaxed,’ he said.

‘There’s not much in it. It’s just lads having a night out... We genuinely don’t see anything in it. We just ended up in that bar – not specifically for the dwarf-racing.

‘If you have a picture with fans and they happen to be girls you can make anything you want with it.’ The players’ antics were captured on CCTV, footage of which was broadcast over the internet yesterday by a bouncer at the club named Jonathan Dixon, who claimed he was releasing it due to his disgust at Tindall’s behaviour.

Although he subsequently withdrew it after pressure from friends, he claimed in an internet video that he wasn’t ‘making a cent’ out of the film, adding: ‘I’m a man who feels very sorry for what Mike Tindall has done to the Royal Family.

‘The way he behaved is not the way decent people, particularly when you have been married for only a few weeks, behave.

'Mr Tindall, your behaviour was that of someone unbecoming, especially to someone such as the Queen or Zara Phillips.’

The bar’s manager, Rich Deane, said Dixon’s contract has been withdrawn for releasing CCTV footage without permission and the incident has been reported to police.

Trouble ahead: Mike Tindall knows he is in for a rough time from his new wife in the next few weeks, but they are both avid party-goers who have never had drink far from their side

Cheers! Zara swigs from a beer bottle following a horse trial in Gloucestershire in 2008. Tindall has previously boasted about his wife's capacity for alcohol in interviews



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