Scrum Sevens
Kiss with a fist
ESPNscrum Staff
May 18, 2011
Leicester's Manu Tuilagi and Northampton's Chris Ashton shake hands, Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership Play-Off Semi-Final, Welford Road, Leicester, England, May 14, 2011
Manu Tuilagi and Chris Ashton shake hands at full-time following Leicester's headline-grabbing victory over Premiership rivals Northampton © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Chris Ashton | Manu Tuilagi
Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership

Last weekend's Aviva Premiership semi-finals unfortunately gave us one of the enduring images of the season - Manu Tuilagi's spectacular over-reaction to a shove from Chris Ashton. The subsequent reactions have ranged from the dignified (Ashton) to the holier than thou (almost everyone else), but the YouTube highlights package for the game (check out our highlights here) already has over 100,000 views. We're guessing that's not because the rugby-watching world was desperate to see the winning try.

Tuilagi, of course, isn't alone and joins a pantheon of greats on the game's naughty step. In this week's Scrum Sevens we've compiled a few more of rugby's wannabe boxers as, after all, we don't want the young lad to be singled out forever.

Johnno in hot water

Martin Johnson's glower has become feature of Twickenham's stands in recent seasons, replacing the time when his glower graced the turf. Back in his playing days the England manager was a confrontational presence, shown here as he takes aim at Saracens hooker Robbie Russell while on duty for Leicester. He apologised but was banned by the RFU for three weeks, appealing on the basis that he couldn't be punished for the same offence twice, having been shown yellow in the game. His ban stood, but inbetween he found time to lead England to defeat against France. Tuilagi will hope that the England boss has a good memory.

Jersey Boy

Before he rose to prominence as a powerful centre or wing for Bath and England, Matt Banahan made a dent representing his native Jersey in the 2007 Siam Cup, which is contested annually against their Channel Island neighbours Guernsey. Banahan was very much up for the fight after coming on as a replacement, singling out two rival players for a bit of summary justice. The fixture seems to bring it out in players - after the 2011 edition a Guernsey player was found guilty of assault after seeking out two opponents following the game, in which his side had been thumped.


Only a few weeks before he was confronted with Tuilagi's haymaker on Ashton, Wayne Barnes was forced to send off Harlequins' Joe Marler and Leicester's Marcos Ayerza for a dust-up at the Stoop. As ever with Quins' hugely impressive young loose-head, we can't help but think this had something to do with his hair.

Vintage Cudmore

Here at ESPNscrum we have a great deal of affection for Clermont Auvergne's Canadian forward Jamie Cudmore. A player cut from the 'never a dull moment' mould, his flagrant aggression makes him an often brilliant back-five forward and a favourite for those who enjoy Jim Telfer's 'stoosh'. Here, our Jamie meets Munster's Paul O'Connell in a Heineken Cup tie at Thomond Park, earning one of his favourite red cards.

Get that guard up

Taranaki replacement Tomasi Soqeta introduced himself to former All Black flanker Chris Masoe with a straight right during the quarter-final of the Air New Zealand Cup in 2008. Duck and weave, duck and weave…(PS Credit to the stadium PA for the timely Hal David/Burt Bacharach soundtrack to proceedings).

Duncan McRae, meet Ronan O'Gara

One of the most widely referenced bouts of foul play in the modern game saw NSW Waratahs fullback Duncan McRae set upon British and Irish Lions fly-half Ronan O'Gara during a tour match at Sydney Football Stadium in June 2001, raining blows down on a prone O'Gara as play went on. Once the referee deigned to intervene, McRae was given his marching orders as O'Gara stumbled from the field a bloody mess. McRae was banned for seven weeks after the incident, but as it was during the Australian off-season he escaped without missing a single competitive game.

The pair came face to face again in 2004, when O'Gara's Munster faced McRae's new club, Gloucester, in the Heineken Cup. "I can't see how he will apologise to me at this stage, but if he comes up to me and wants to shake my hand, I'll have no problem," O'Gara told The Independent at the time.

Cheap shot

This one is on the sneaky end of the scale and pretty shameful. Delon Armitage, banned earlier in the season for an altercation with a drugs tester, gives Stephen Myler a cheeky dig as the pair crash into touch. He was eventually banned for three weeks, ending his season.

All White

In an embarrassing episode for England prop Andrew Sheridan, he was sat on his backside by a relatively inoffensive shot from Leicester's veteran tight-head Julian White in a Premiership match two years ago. The Tigers went on to win the game but White was forced to sit out their Heineken Cup quarter-final success against Bath after copping a two-week ban.

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