Leicester's Tuilagi to miss final

by Staff Writer

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi will miss the English Premiership final after receiving a five-week ban on Wednesday for punching Northampton's Chris Ashton in last weekend's playoff semi-final, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced.

The suspension rules Samoa-born England prospect Tuilagi, 20, out of the Premiership final against Saracens at Twickenham on May 28.

He will also miss all of the second string England Saxons matches in next month's Churchill Cup, which would have given him a chance to stake a Test claim ahead of England's World Cup warm-up matches in August.

Tuilagi, who admitted the charge, was suspended by a RFU panel chaired by disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett in London on Wednesday.

The ban starts on Thursday and expires on June 23.

Tuilagi caught England wing Ashton with three punches in quick succession during the Tigers' 11-3 win against Northampton at Welford Road.

The Premiership's young player of the year escaped a red card and was, together with Ashton, sent to the sin-bin by Wayne Barnes following his consultation with touch judge Robin Goodliffe.

But Tuilagi was cited on Tuesday, paving the way for Wednesday's hearing.

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