Rugby World Cup 2011
Tuilagi hit with mouthguard fine
October 4, 2011
England centre Manu Tuilagi has been hit with a £5,000 fine after wearing an illegal gumshield bearing a sponsor's name © Getty Images
England have had another spot of disciplinary bother after it was disclosed that Manu Tuilagi has been fined NZ$10,000 (£5,000) by the International Rugby Board (IRB) for wearing an illegal gumshield bearing a sponsor's name.
Tuilagi, whose older brother Alesana plays for Samoa and was punished last week for the same faux-pas, wore the offending mouthguard in England's opening two games of the tournament, against Argentina and Georgia in Dunedin. The sanction was not originally announced by the IRB because they did not want to give the company any further publicity.
This is seen as a minor issue in comparison with some of the matters still hanging over the England camp. The IRB confirmed they had fined a number of players from a range of countries for the same error in judgement. An RFU spokesman insisted it had been "a genuine error".
Tuilagi, 20, denied the incident was part of an orchestrated campaign. "We always wear the same mouthguard. Mine was the one I used to wear when I was playing for England Under-18s. There is branding on the front of it. Before the Romania game I coloured it in with permanent marker. I also wore it in the Argentina game but they [the IRB] didn't know."
The IRB said in a statement the team kit rules are "well understood by the participating teams and are in line with other major sporting events".
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.