PR firm Juniper Sport, which handles PR business and some sponsorship matters for the Rugby Football Union and Zara Phillips (new wife of England rugby player Mike Tindall) among others, must have been rubbing its collective hands in anticipation when the Rugby World Cup began in New Zealand.
There was the England rugby team, Six Nations champions in Northern Europe, given a relatively easy draw in the group stages and an obvious route to the final once Ireland had beaten Australia in their opening match. Tindall, who seems to be a personal as well as collective client, fairly sure of his place in the team and Phillips, the international three day event rider and daughter of Princess Anne, all set to fly out to cheer on her new husband and his mates.
Then, of course it all went pear-shaped when Tindall and some teammates went to a bar in Queenstown (one of the attraction was dwarf throwing) and Tindall was seen and filmed kissing and cuddling a mystery blonde who now seems to be an old flame from his days in Leeds.
Juniper went into supercharged ‘crisis management’ mode, acknowledging that it was Tindall in the pics (which it could hardly deny) but maintaining that after his drunken canoodles he went back to his hotel (on his own) so no harm was done really. But it now transpires that they didn’t, he went to another bar with the blonde first.
But last weekend, according to this weekend’s Mail on Sunday, Juniper and even the posh lawyers Farrers, the Queen’s solicitors no less, had been on the phone all Saturday to the MoS denying that Tindall (and the blonde) had sought further entertainment. But they clearly had.
Which makes Juniper (and Farrers) look either foolish or economical with the truth, maybe both. So in this weekend’s further account of the evening in Queenstown there’s the following rather extraordinary statement from Juniper:
Mike Tindall gave his PR consultants and the Rugby Football Union his assurance that he had not attended the Cowboys bar, having left the Altitude bar. However, Mike now accepts his recollection was incorrect and he apologises unreservedly.
So who’s the errant rugby player actually apologising to? The RFU, his employer, clearly but also his ‘PR consultants?’ For making them look silly and annoying the Mail on Sunday? Self important or what?
But surely Tindall should be apologising to England rugby supporters and his wife?
The only reasonable option for Juniper is surely to resign the Mike Tindall account as the company’s corporate amour propre has been so traduced. But I bet it doesn’t.