England confirm Manu Tuilagi will not be selected for Rugby World Cup
Leicester Tigers star in international exile until January 2016 at the earliest after pleading guilty to three assault charges
Stuart Lancaster has confirmed that he will not select Manu Tuilagi for England’s Rugby World Cup squad.
The England head coach took a dim view of the 23-year-old’s conviction on three charges of assault and one of criminal damage believed to involve a taxi driver and a two police women several weeks ago.
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.
Tuilagi pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates Court this week and has been ordered to pay £6,205 in fines, compensation, charges and costs.
The Leicester Tigers star has struggled with injuries this season and has not played since he was forced off injured in the European Champions Cup in October.
But Red Rose boss Lancaster has informed Tuilagi that he will miss the showpiece event as a consequence of his actions on Sunday 26 April.
“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,” Lancaster said.
“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.”
Manu Tuilagi grabbed a taxi driver by the throat, kicked his wing mirror, and then pushed two female police officers hard in the chest.
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) May 15, 2015
The police officers were trying to handcuff him on Granby Street in Leicester at around 3am on Sunday 26th April.
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) May 15, 2015
Tuilagi has not played for England since a 3-0 series defeat to New Zealand last summer, but was expected to overcome his groin problem to push for a return for England’s Rugby World Cup warm-up matches against France and Ireland in August.
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.
Following autumn defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, Lancaster admitted that England missed the physical player’s presence in their midfield and he was expected to be named in a 45-man training squad next Wednesday.
Despite struggling to fill the sizable void during Tuilagi’s injury absence, Lancaster will not consider the 25-times capped star for his Elite Playing Squads until January 2016, which could see him return at the RBS 6 Nations.
Tuilagi is not the first England player to fall foul of England’s strict behaviour policy since Lancaster vowed to stamp out ill-discipline that had plagued the Martin Johnson era.
Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care axed from the 2012 Six Nations squad following his drink driving conviction and 16-month driving ban, while former London Irish back Delon Armitage was also dropped from the England Saxons squad in January 2012 after being arrested on suspicion of assault in Torquay hours after the Saxons had played in Exeter.
Apologising unreservedly for his actions, Tuilagi hopes to be given a chance to prove his worth in the future.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and unreservedly apologise to all those involved in the incident, Leicester Tigers and England,” Tuilagi said.
“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.”
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill also confirmed that the club will take disciplinary action against the centre, but did not elaborate on what that could be.
“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,” Cockerill said.
“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.”