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(Special report) Inside the Tigers’ Den - Manu Tuilagi sentenced for assault and dropped by England

By John Evely

Leicester Tigers in action against Harlequins. Photo: Tigers Images EMN-141016-124022001
Leicester Tigers in action against Harlequins. Photo: Tigers Images EMN-141016-124022001

Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi 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 today (Friday) his chances of playing in the home tournament have been 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 this 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, head coach Stuart Lancaster had no doubts in dropping the wrecking ball centre.

He said England players are roll models.

Lancaster said: “As role models and ambassadors for the game, the highest standards of behaviour are expected from every England player both on and off the field.

“Having spoken to Manu, he understands and accepts both the seriousness of the offences to which he has pleaded guilty and the consequences of his behaviour to his club, country and the game as a whole.

“England will continue to liaise with Leicester Tigers and have every confidence that the club will continue to support Manu in the right way.”

Tuilagi has missed England’s last nine internationals and most of Leicester’s season a after suffering a serious groin injury.

Lancaster names his training squad for the World Cup on Wednesday and he has told Tuilagi he will not be considered for selection for England’s Elite Playing Squads until January 2016.

Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Manu knows and accepts his responsibilities and has received a significant punishment in being excluded from the England squad and the club will also take internal disciplinary action. While we do not in any way condone his actions in this case, Manu is a young man who has grown up in the public eye and he is a good professional in a top-level environment. He always gives his time very generously to supporters, particularly young ones, wherever he goes, and fully understands the role that the fans have played in his career. We will continue to work closely with him on his return to full fitness and look forward to his return to the field in due course.”

Manu Tuilagi said: “I take full responsibility for my actions and unreservedly apologise to all those involved in the incident, Leicester Tigers and England. It is something I deeply regret and I totally accept the sentence given by the court. The club and Stuart have been very supportive and I understand their sanctions too. I know as an England player the need to conduct myself as a good role model for the game. I am very disappointed because my actions have let so many people down and I can only hope for a future chance to prove myself again.”


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