Aviva Premiership - Tuilagi gets five-week ban for punch

Wed, 18 May 18:56:00 2011

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi has received a five-week ban for punching Northampton wing Chris Ashton during last Saturday's Aviva Premiership play-off clash at Welford Road.

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The suspension rules England World Cup candidate Tuilagi out of Tigers' Premiership final appointment with Saracens on May 28.

He will also miss England Saxons' entire Churchill Cup campaign next month, which would have provided a shop window for him prior to England's World Cup warm-up Tests in August.

The ban starts on Thursday and expires on June 23. Tuilagi admitted the charge.

Tuilagi, 20, appeared before a three-man Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel in central London after being cited for punching England star Ashton. Both players were sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes.

Rugby Football Union disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett said: "This sort of incident is very damaging to the image of the game and there is no place for this type of offending on the rugby pitch.

"Had it occurred in the high street an offender would have been prosecuted in the criminal courts.

"This was a top-end entry offence because there were three punches, the third of which was extremely forceful and caused significant injury.

"However we also determined that there was some provocation from Chris Ashton who pushed and struck him in the back with his knee.

"The top-end range is eight to 52 weeks and we determined that the appropriate entry point within that range is 10 weeks.

"This was reduced by 50% to reflect Manu's youth and inexperience, his admission of guilt and his genuine remorse.

"Nevertheless we are confident that Manu Tuilagi will learn a valuable lesson from this."

England manager Martin Johnson will name his World Cup training squad on June 17, a week before Tuilagi's ban expires.

PA Sport

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