Tuilagi cited for Ashton punch
Leicester's Manu Tuilagi has been cited for punching England wing Chris Ashton and will face a hearing on Wednesday that could rule the centre out of this month's English Premiership final.
Tuilagi landed several punches, including a crunching blow, on Ashton during Leicester's 11-3 playoff semi-final win over Northampton on Saturday.
Yet instead of being sent-off, he received a yellow card -- as did Ashton.
Wednesday's hearing in London, which will be chaired by Jeff Blackett, the Rugby Football Union's disciplinary officer, takes place on England prospect Tuilagi's 20th birthday.
If banned, the Samoa-born back is set to miss the Premiership final against Saracens at Twickenham on May 28.
Northampton coach Jim Mallinder questioned how Tuilagi escaped a red card from referee Wayne Barnes, acting on the advice of touch judge Robin Goodliffe.
"Chris Ashton did go over and give him a push, but you cannot react with three punches to the head without a red card," Mallinder said.
Mallinder, who must now raise Northampton's spirits in time for Saturday's European Cup final against Irish province Leinster in Cardiff, said Leicester had gained unduly from playing the match at their Welford Road home ground.
"When you come to places like this, you don't get the 50-50s."
Leicester coach Richard Cockerill and his assistant, Matt O'Connor, have also been criticised for subjecting referees assessor Brian Campsall, sat nearby in the same stand as the Tigers duo, to persistent complaints throughout the match.
"We've always had friendly banter between the two clubs but I thought Leicester crossed the line on Saturday," Northampton owner Keith Barwell told Tuesday's Daily Telegraph.
"What Cockerill and his assistant were doing cannot be good for the game either, can it?"
A late try from Alesana Tuilagi, Manu's older brother, and two penalties from England outside-half Toby Flood saw Leicester into the Premiership final, where they are bidding for a third straight domestic title.
Date published : 17 May 201117:00:06