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Rugby star fined over police attack

An England rugby union international has been fined after attacking two police officers in a late-night brawl.

Manu Tuilagi, 23, assaulted the officers in Granby Street in Leicester city centre in the early hours of April 26.

He admitted one count of assault by beating, one count of criminal damage and two counts of assaulting a police officer at Leicester Magistrates' Court yesterday and was ordered to pay more than £6,000 in fines and compensation.

Tuilagi, who plays for Leicester Tigers and turns 24 on Monday, will now miss the Rugby World Cup this autumn after being dropped by England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

He apologised "unreservedly" to both his club and the England rugby authorities for his actions, which he said he "deeply regrets".

He 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."

Tuilagi, of Rushy Close, Leicester, pleaded guilty to all four charges and was ordered to pay £6,205 in fines, compensation, charges and costs.

A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: "He was charged following an incident in the early hours of Sunday April 26.

"He was charged with one count of assault by beating, criminal damage, and two counts of assaulting a police officer."

It is understood that neither officer was seriously injured in the incident, and police declined to give any further details beyond the charges.

The England centre, who has 25 caps but has been out of action since October with a groin injury, was told by Lancaster that following his conviction he will not be considered to play for his country until January next year.

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."

Richard Cockerill, Leicester Tigers' director of rugby, added: "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."

It is not the first time Tuilagi - usually one of the first names on England's team sheet when he is fit - has courted controversy.

During England's last World Cup campaign in New Zealand in 2011 he was fined £3,000 for jumping from a ferry into Auckland Harbour.

He has also previously been banned for 10 weeks after punching former Northampton and England wing Chris Ashton at a Premiership semi-final, though his suspension was later reduced to five weeks on appeal.


From Belfast Telegraph