Tuilagi cleared to join tour of South Africa
ENGLAND have received a major boost after learning centre Manu Tuilagi has been cleared to tour South Africa following the dismissal of his citing by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel.
Tuilagi’s eligibility to tour was in question after being cited for a ‘tip tackle’ on Harlequins’ scrum-half Danny Care early in Saturday’s Premiership final, which Quins won with a 30-23 victory over Leicester.
The Leicester centre, 21, is one of England’s most talented players and particularly important given the physical nature of the impending tour to South Africa but, following the conclusion of the case heard in Bristol, England coach Stuart Lancaster – who had said of Tuilagi he was “pretty confident he will be fine”– can prepare for his inclusion without any doubt.
An RFU statement said: “A citing charge brought against Manusamoa Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers was tonight dismissed.
“An RFU disciplinary panel of Christopher Quinlan QC [chair], Dan White and Nick Dark was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the referee was wrong in not sending the player off for a tackle on Harlequins’ Danny Care during the Aviva Premiership final between the teams on May 26. Tuilagi is therefore free to continue playing and will fly out to South Africa with the England squad tomorrow [Wednesday] evening.”
The development also represents a personal boost to Tuilagi, who has had previous disciplinary problems.
England’s preparations for the tour, which begins on 9 June in Durban, had already suffered a blow yesterday when Saracens prop Matt Stevens had to withdraw from the squad after suffering a shoulder injury in England’s 57-26 win against the Barbarians on Sunday.
Gloucester’s uncapped Rupert Harden has instead been called up and, though Lancaster is disappointed for Stevens, who was born in South Africa, he believes Harden has a chance to prove his international credentials.
“Firstly, it’s really tough on Matt but he has been assessed by the medics and he wouldn’t be able to train or play for some time,” said Lancaster.
“We wish him all the best but it’s a great opportunity for Rupert, who has been the first-choice tight head for Gloucester this season and also involved with the Saxons during the Six Nations.”