Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Rugby prank 'just fun' - Cameron

England centre Manu Tuilagi stuck his fingers above David Cameron's head to give him 'bunny ears' during a photo shoot (Chris Harris/The Times/PA)

David Cameron has told rugby prankster Manu Tuilagi there was no need to apologise for giving the Prime Minister "bunny ears" during a photo shoot at Downing Street.

The British and Irish Lions star had apologised for the prank he played during a team visit to No10 but Mr Cameron told him he knew it was "just a bit of fun".

The Prime Minister tweeted: "@Manutuilagi it was great to welcome you and the @lionsofficial team to No10. No need to apologise, I know it was just a bit of fun."

The England centre had stuck his fingers behind the PM's head during a photo shoot of players and management during an event to honour the Lions' victory over Australia, creating the "bunny ears" effect.

Tuilagi was forced to apologise for the playful prank and insisted he meant no offence. Using Twitter to express his remorse, the Leicester Tigers player said: "Apologies for messing around on Lions photo. No offence intended. Great Day at Downing Street. Thanks to Prime Minister for hosting us."

It is not the first time Tuilagi has been the centre of controversy as he was fined £3,000 by the Rugby Football Union after he jumped from a ferry during England's World Cup campaign in New Zealand two years ago. Tuilagi was cautioned by police on that occasion and disciplined by then England coach Martin Johnson.

Following his latest prank, Tuilagi's team-mates reacted on social networking site Twitter. Ben Youngs, a fellow British and Irish Lion, England and Tigers player, tweeted: "The man@Manutuilagi just couldn't stop himself." The scrum-half later removed the tweet and posted a picture of himself posing outside 10 Downing Street. Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns tweeted: "Great bottle from Manu Tuilagi! Haha. #chief".

Mr Cameron welcomed the victorious British and Irish Lions rugby squad for the reception on Monday, when he was presented with fly-half Jonny Sexton's number 10 jersey. He said: "It's a huge honour. My son, just because of you guys, has just started tag rugby. He will be so excited about this jersey."

Mr Cameron congratulated captain Sam Warburton and coach Warren Gatland as they brought along the Tom Richards Cup to Number 10.

The Lions, comprised of players from Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland, won the first and third tests to secure a 2-1 triumph in the three-match series with Australia during the summer.

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