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Tuilagi's punishment doesn't fit crime

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi commits a top-end offence for an appalling punch on Chris Ashton, yet gets it reduced by 50pc on the basis of provocation (an extraordinary interpretation) and age ("youth and inexperience").

By contrast, back in December, Paul O'Connell came in at the so called mid-range of seriousness for retaliation, yet shipped just a week less than Tuilagi. At times like this you really do despair.

According to the English RFU's disciplinary supremo Judge Jeff Blackett, "We determined that the appropriate entry point within the range was 10 weeks and this was reduced by 50pc to reflect Manu's youth and inexperience, his admission of guilt and his genuine remorse".

Wow. Imagine that -- remorse and, even better still, admission of guilt!

Would I be wrong in interpreting Judge Blackett's take as being, the older and more experienced the player, the greater the suspicion of guilt?

Tuilagi's act was indefensible, while O'Connell's (for anyone who has played the game) made for the age-old story of the victim ending up in the dock.

If this is justice evenly applied, then heaven help us going forward.

Irish Independent