RugbyU: Tindall girl is just a friend - wife

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England centre Mike Tindall's cosying up with a girl during during a boozy night out at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was splashed on several British newspaper front pages once more Saturday.

However, a spokeswoman for his wife Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter, insisted the unidentified blonde was an old friend and the incident had been "blown out of all proportion".

The story was on the front of three national newspapers Saturday: "Zara's Agony" said the Daily Mail; "Tindall Scrums Down" read The Sun; "Zara Stands By Her Man" said The Daily Telegraph.

Video footage has emerged of Tindall with the woman in a Queenstown bar on Sunday as the England team celebrated victory over Argentina in their opening World Cup match.

Alleged security camera footage, posted on the Internet, shows the woman kissing Tindall on the head and the Gloucester captain with his arms around her.

The images, and the subsequent headlines, have forced England manager Martin Johnson to defend his players in going out and letting off steam.

Tindall married Zara Phillips, the former world eventing champion, six weeks ago in Edinburgh.

A spokeswoman for Phillips was quoted in several national newspapers Saturday as saying the woman was a friend of the family.

"This girl is a friend of Zara and Mike's and has known Mike since university days. She is an English girl living in Australia who was at their wedding," she said.

"Zara is very relaxed about all this and the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion."

Tindall, 32, is not in the England team to play Georgia on Sunday. Johnson said his decision to leave Tindall out against the Pool B minnows was in no way related to last Sunday's events.

© 2011 AFP

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