London: Shamed Mike Tindall is expected to leave the Royal family’s Christmas get-together early to play for Gloucester.
The former England rugby captain had been invited to spend Christmas with his wife, Zara Phillips, and the rest of the Royal family at Sandringham.
His much-publicised antics at the World Cup, for which he was fined and, temporarily, thrown out of the elite player squad, would have made his presence alongside the Queen, a potential embarrassment.
The Gloucester’s home match on Boxing Day, and the possibility of training on Christmas Day, has given the 3-year-old rugby star the perfect excuse to leave the Norfolk retreat before the Royal family’s traditional photo-call.
“He’ll probably play, if he’s fit and in form,” the Telegraph quoted Gloucester’s spokesman Duncan Wood as saying.
Tindall’s mother-in-law, the Princess Royal, was “angry and upset” by his drunken behaviour in New Zealand with one of his former girlfriends.