Inside the Tigers’ Den - Play-offs, England call-ups and Manu
It’s all happening this week, derby victories, play-off semi-finals, national squad selections and media storms.
In that order - Leicester beat derby rivals Northampton on Saturday 22-14 against a second-string Saints side who had already qualified for a home play-off semi-final and top of the table finish.
It was a must win game for Leicester, and they just about did enough. Leicester’s pack well and truly had the advantage, especially in the scrum, although Northampton fought hard at the breakdown.
Jordan Crane opened the try scoring when he crashed over from a driving maul and the Niall Morris capped a superb performance at full back with a second half try.
Northampton did score through Tom Stephenson but it was little more than compensation.
Tigers, who finished third in the league, now travel to Bath on Saturday for a chance to play in the final.
It is Leicester’s 11th straight play-off appearance.
There were no surprises for the club when Stuart Lancaster named his 50-man England training squad yesterday.
Naming so many players means that as yet Lancaster has not made the difficult selection calls, although he stuck to his guns and opted not to select players earning their trade outside the Aviva Premiership.
Leicester’s trio of England internationals who played in the Six Nations are included: Dan Cole, Ben and Tom Youngs,.
Ben Youngs (49 caps) and Dan Cole (53 caps) are two of England’s most experienced players in the current squad and are likely to play key leadership roles as they have a tilt at winning the Rugby World Cup on home soil, starting on September 18.
Flanker Tom Croft misses out with injury, but has not been ruled out altogether as he joins Ben Foden and Joe Simpson in a group of players specifically mentioned who are rehabbing injuries.
Exeter-bound second row Geoff Parling makes the cut but Graham Kitchener, who trained with England during the Six Nations but never made a match day squad, misses out. He has been left out because of the return of Wasps lock Joe Launchbury and his club captain Ed Slater. Both men made their return on May 9 and have made enough of an impression in the two games since to earn a place in the training squad.
The one big name to not make selection of course is Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi.
He has been told he has no chance of playing in the Rugby World Cup after he was dropped after pleading guilty to three counts of assault and committing criminal damage.
The 23-year-old has been fighting a race against time to get fit for the Rugby World Cup but on Friday his chances of playing in the home tournament were ended when he was told he will play no part in the tournament by England head coach Stuart Lancaster after failing to uphold the standards required of an England player.
Tuilagi pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates last week and was ordered to pay the court a total of £6,205 in fines, compensation, charges and costs.
Despite Tuilagi being one of the true world beaters in the England squad, Lancaster had no doubts in dropping the wrecking ball centre.
He said England players are roll models.
England Rugby World Cup training squad
Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Sam Burgess (Bath Rugby)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Nick Easter (Harlequins)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Wasps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Matt Mullan (Wasps)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
David Strettle (Saracens)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Marland Yarde (Harlequins)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)