Leicester relief as Tuilagi cleared to play

Manu Tuilagi (Getty)
Manu Tuilagi (Getty)

London - England centre Manu Tuilagi has been cleared of making a dangerous tackle in his comeback game and given the green light to start against Saracens on Sunday.

The decision to cite the 26-year-old battering ram for a high challenge on Chris Cloete in the 49th minute of last Sunday's Champions Cup defeat by Munster was met with widespread disapproval.

Tuilagi's former British and Irish Lions team-mate Brian O'Driscoll insisted the "game has gone soft."

After the verdict, Leicester declared that "sanity prevailed."

Leicester director of rugby Matt O'Connor was satisfied by the decision.

"We're really thankful because Manu has just had a much publicised lay-off from the game and is back fit and had got through a quality 80 minutes," O'Connor told BBC Sport.

"After his first game back it would have been devastating for him and the group if he was to miss more games, but thankfully sanity prevailed.

"I was very surprised when the citing came though. There was no malicious intent, it wasn't particularly high. It was a pretty sound tackle from our perspective.

"Everything Manu does is scrutinised because he's such a fantastic talent. There will always be headlines around Manu and everyone understands that."

The three-strong disciplinary panel found that while Tuilagi had committed "a reckless act of foul play in that his shoulder had made contact with Cloete's head", the offence did not warrant a red card.

Rugby's lawmakers are eager to clamp down on dangerous play but O'Connor argued that there are inherent risks in playing rugby.

"It's a highly-physical collision sport and you're going to have guys getting injured unfortunately."

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