Manu Tuilagi cited for 'tip tackle' on Danny Care during Premiership final


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The Independent Online

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi could miss England's tour of South Africa after being cited following an incident during the Aviva Premiership final two days ago.

Tuilagi will face a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing in Bristol tomorrow night.

He has been reported by citing officer John Byett for a "tip tackle" on Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care during Saturday's showpiece final at Twickenham, which Quins won 30-23.

In a statement, the RFU said: "Manusamoa Tuilagi, of Leicester Tigers, has been cited for a 'tip tackle' on Harlequins' Danny Care during the Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, May 27.

"Tuilagi has been charged with a breach of Law 10.4 (j) following a report by the citing officer John Byett and will appear at the Bristol Filton Holiday Inn on Tuesday, May 29 (8pm). The case will be heard by a single RFU judicial officer, Christopher Quinlan QC."

The England squad leave for South Africa on Wednesday, playing Tests against the Springboks in Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, plus two midweek fixtures.

The powerful Tuilagi, 21, is a key part of England head coach Stuart Lancaster's plans, but he could land a minimum three-week suspension.

Tuilagi, one of England's outstanding performers during the RBS 6 Nations campaign, is no stranger to controversy.

He was banned for 10 weeks after punching Northampton and England wing Chris Ashton during a Premiership semi-final at Welford Road last season, although that suspension was reduced to five weeks on appeal.

And during England's ill-fated World Cup campaign in New Zealand last autumn, Tuilagi received a £3,000 fine for jumping from a ferry into Auckland Harbour and a £4,800 punishment from the International Rugby Board for wearing a sponsored mouthguard during the tournament.

"Tip tackles" are frowned upon by rugby disciplinarians, and if the case is proved against Tuilagi - who tackled Care in the first minute - then he can expect an enforced absence from the game.

Lancaster said after yesterday's comfortable Twickenham victory over the Barbarians, in which Tuilagi did not play, that he was not anticipating a major problem for the player.

"Looking at the incident I am pretty confident he will be fine, but we will wait and see," Lancaster said.

Tuilagi was penalised by referee Wayne Barnes for the offence, but he did not receive a yellow or red card.

Lancaster is also sweating on the fitness of Leicester fly-half Toby Flood, who missed the Premiership final because of an ankle injury.

Wales captain Sam Warburton landed a three-week suspension during the World Cup last autumn for a tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc in the semi-final at Auckland's Eden Park.

And Warburton's Wales colleague Bradley Davies collected a seven-week ban after a his tackle on Ireland forward Donnacha Ryan during the opening weekend of this season's tournament. Davies missed the rest of the competition.

Toulon's former Newcastle prop Carl Hayman, meanwhile, was banned for four weeks for a dangerous tackle on Biarritz wing Taku Ngwenya in the Amlin Challenge Cup final at the Twickenham Stoop 10 days ago.

Barnes, who awarded Davies a yellow card in Dublin, also decided that Hayman should be sin-binned.