Manu Tuilagi, the Leicester Tigers centre, will not be considered for England’s World Cup squad after being convicted for assaulting a female police officer.
Tuilagi pleaded guilty to three charges of assault and one of criminal damage at Leicester Magistrates on Thursday morning after an incident which occurred in the early hours of Sunday, April 26 in the Granby Street area of Leicester.
He had been charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer, assault by beating and causing criminal damage and was ordered to pay the court a total of £6,205 in fines, compensation, charges and costs, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, has taken immediate action in response to Tuilagi’s conduct and decided not to consider the 23 year-old for selection until next January, ruling him out of the World Cup in September and October despite being one of his most important players.
Manu Tuilagi grabbed a taxi driver by the throat, kicked his wing mirror, and then pushed two female police officers hard in the chest.— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) May 15, 2015
The police officers were trying to handcuff him on Granby Street in Leicester at around 3am on Sunday 26th April.— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) May 15, 2015
Tuilagi has been dogged by injury problems this season: he has been suffering from trouble in his groin but had hoped to recover in time to play a full part in England’s World Cup preparations, which begin next month.
“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,” said Lancaster, who is due to name his 45-man strong World Cup training squad next month.
“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, who had to be disciplined by the Rugby Football Union at the 2011 World Cup for jumping off a ferry in Auckland, admitted he took full responsibility for his action and apologised unreservedly in the incident, Leicester and England.
“It is something I deeply regret and I totally accept the sentence given by the court,” said Tuilagi.
“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.”
Tuilagi’s actions will also now be punished internally by Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
“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,” Cockerill said.
“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.”
Tuilagi has a chequered history of disciplinary issues. In May 2011, he was given a five-week ban for repeatedly punching his England team-mate Chris Ashton during an Aviva Premiership semi-final against Northampton.
And later that year, following the Rugby World Cup, he was severely reprimanded and fined £3,000 for jumping off a ferry in Auckland harbour.
He was also forced to apologise for making a 'bunny-ears' gesture behind the back of Prime Minister David Cameron at a Downing Street photocall for the victorious British and Irish Lions squad in 2013.