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Men's Rugby Union Tuilagi avoids suspension for tackle in Champions Cup game

MANU TUILAGI avoided a ban yesterday after his citing for a dangerous tackle in Leicester’s Champions Cup defeat by Munster on Sunday was dismissed.

The Leicester and England centre appeared before an independent disciplinary hearing after appearing to make a high challenge on Chris Cloete in the 49th minute of the pool match at Welford Road.

“It was found that Tuilagi had committed a reckless act of foul play in that his shoulder had made contact with Cloete’s head, but the committee was not satisfied that the offence warranted a red card,” a statement issued by tournament organisers read.

Tuilagi was making his first appearance since returning from the knee surgery required after being injured on the opening day of the season.

The decision to cite the England centre — who faced a minimum of a two-week suspension and as high as 10 weeks, had he been found guilty — was condemned by his British and Irish Lions teammate Brian O’Driscoll.

“I think the game has gone soft if we’re picking up on marginal collisions like the Manu Tuilagi tackle he’s been cited for,” former Ireland captain O’Driscoll said on Twitter.

The decision clears Tuilagi, who pleaded not guilty, to play in Sunday’s Premiership showdown with Saracens at Welford Road.

Serious chest, groin, knee and hamstring injuries have plagued his career for the past four years and his most recent international appearance was against Wales in March in 2016.

Tuilagi’s career has been chequered by repeated off-field disciplinary issues, including a conviction for assaulting two female police officers in 2015 that resulted in his exclusion from England’s World Cup squad later that year.

The 26-year-old’s most recent transgression saw him being sent home from England’s August training camp in disgrace after undertaking a late night drinking session with Denny Solomona.

However, his solitary suspension was the five weeks received for punching Chris Ashton in 2011.

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