England RWC star debuted weeks after ban for three-punch combo on team-mate

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    Manu Tuilagi has been of the most loyal servants to the English national rugby team over the past decade – but he made his debut just weeks after scrapping with a team-mate.

    The centre was playing for Leicester Tigers in the Premiership 11 years ago, when he blindsided Northampton's speedster Chris Ashton off the ball.

    Ashton responded with fire, and the pair exchanged in a fiery bust-up that saw Tuilagi land three punches on Ashton, all connecting cleanly with his head.

    READ MORE: England face Japan at World Cup at venue of our country's worst sporting moment

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    England's rugby team will be aiming for glory in France, with Umbro supplying their kits for the tournament. It is the first time that the supplier have been handed the chance to produce the kits, with a traditional white home shirt emblazoned with the iconic red rose.

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    "This sort of incident is very damaging to the image of the game," said disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett. "Had it occurred in the high street an offender would have been prosecuted in the criminal courts."

    Tuilagi was slapped with a five-week, ban with Blackett adding: "The top-end range is eight to 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."

    What do you think of the fight? Let us know in the comments section

    However, it didn't sacrifice his chances with England, and he went onto make his debut that August against Wales.

    It wasn't long until Chris Ashton joined him in the England camp, and the full-back went onto to wow England fans with his pace.

    Tuilagi will earn his 55 cap on Sunday evening as England continue their bid for Rugby World Cup glory against Japan.

    • Rugby union
    • Rugby World Cup

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