manu tuilagi leicester and england saxonsThe RFU have confirmed that Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi has been banned for five weeks for punching Chris Ashton in last Saturday’s Aviva Premiership semi-final.

Tuilagi, who pleaded guilty, was suspended from May 19 to June 22 by an RFU Disciplinary Panel of Disciplinary Officer Judge Jeff Blackett, Philip Evans and Jeremy Summers. He can play again on June 23. he was also ordered to pay £500 in costs.

Blacket said: “This was a Top End entry offence because there were three punches, the third of which was extremely forceful and caused significant injury. However we also determined that there was some provocation from Chris Ashton who pushed and struck him in the back with his knee.

“The Top End range is 8-52 weeks and we determined that the appropriate entry point within that range is 10 weeks. This was reduced by 50% to reflect Manu’s youth and inexperience, his admission of guilt and his genuine remorse.

Blackett added: “This this sort of incident is very damaging to the image of the game and there is no place for this type of offending on the rugby pitch. Had it occurred in the high street an offender would have been prosecuted in the criminal courts. Nevertheless we are confident that Manu Tuilagi will learn a valuable lesson from this.”