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Tuilagi banned for five weeks


Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

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.

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.

The RFU revealed tonight that Tuilagi's case had been dealt with as a top level entry point.

But an initial 10-week ban was reduced by 50% due to provocation - namely, an Ashton push - the governing body said.

Tuilagi aimed three punches at Ashton, the latter a crunching right hook that left Northampton's prolific try-scorer requiring stitches to a cut near his left eye.

Tuilagi was subsequently reported by independent citing officer Alan Mansell, and he must now sit out Leicester's bid for an eighth Premiership title in a repeat of last season's final.

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