An England rugby player nearly got mown over by a passenger ferry after he jumped from the craft while it was docking into the Auckland harbour on Sunday.

Manu Tuilagi stripped to his "Dennis the Mennis" black and red stripy boxers and jumped off the back of the boat swimming to the nearest pier a few metres away. The stunt could have been fatal with the ferry imminently reversing into port. Tuilagi would have been, at the very least, severely injured by the engines.

One eye witness said: "I saw him jump into the water when the ferry was about to reverse. He could have been mown over by the boat."

The 20 year old was met by local police on shore and detained for an hour before releasing him later that afternoon, with the England team due to fly back to the UK that same evening.

The centre said: "I'm really sorry. It was a silly thing to do and I apologise to everybody for any inconvenience caused."

The RFU fined Tuilagi £3,000 for the act.

The incident is the latest misdemeanour in what has been a disastrous World Cup campaign both on and off the pitch.