England coach Eddie Jones should stick with Danny Cipriani despite a conviction for assault and resisting arrest in a nightclub incident, according to Gloucester boss Johan Ackermann.
After more than five hours, a disciplinary hearing convened by England’s Rugby Football Union decided on Wednesday to uphold a charge against Cipriani of conduct prejudicial to the game but, significantly, took no further action against the 30-year-old playmaker.
Cipriani, now with English Premiership side Gloucester, had been fined £2,000 ($2,500) and ordered to pay £250 by a court last Thursday following the incident that took place on the southwest club’s pre-season tour of the Channel Island of Jersey on August 15.
He is now free to make his Gloucester debut in Thursday’s pre-season friendly against the Dragons.
Cipriani, whose career has been blighted by off the field misdemeanours, made his first England start in a decade in the third Test against South Africa in June and helped create the winning try.
Jones had made it clear in May that further off-field problems could end of Cipriani’s time as an England player but Ackermann believes that, ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan, that ditching him would be a mistake given he is the country’s leading fly-half.
“All you have to do is speak to Danny to see and understand the person,” Ackermann said at the Gallagher Premiership launch at Twickenham on Thursday.
“You can’t cut off your nose to spite your face by not selecting because of a mistake like that. He’s regretful of what happened and that’s not who he wants to be. If he’s the in-form player over the next few weeks there’s no doubt that I would select him if I was the England coach.
“Judging him on last season, he was definitely the Premiership’s in form fly-half. George Ford and Owen Farrell have lots of ability, but Danny brought so much to Wasps.”
Meanwhile James Haskell bemoaned the “trial by social media” inflicted on Cipriani, with whom he has played for both Wasps and England.
Cipriani’s case, like that of England cricketer Ben Stokes who was found not guilty of a charge of affray last week following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September, generated plenty of social media comment.
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)