Sale Sharks have pulled off a major coup by signing England centre Manu Tuilagi.

Tuilagi, 29, had been linked with a move to France or a code switch to rugby league after failing to agree terms to extend his stay with Leicester Tigers.

The British and Irish Lion will be eligible to continue his England career, though, after joining Sale on a deal until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Tuilagi could end the 2019-20 campaign as a Premiership champion, with the Sharks second in the table as they prepare to return to action on August 14, more than five months since the coronavirus crisis brought the season to a halt.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond said: "We contacted Manu's agent and Leicester Tigers last week to discuss the player's current position.

"After discussions on Friday, all parties – Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi and Sale Sharks – agreed that the player was a free agent and was able to enter into negotiations with another club.

"Manu will be a fantastic commercial and playing addition to our squad and I am looking forward to seeing him join up with the lads at Carrington this week."

Tuilagi's brother, Andy, spent three seasons with Sale from 2008 to 2011.

Ben Youngs, George Ford, Ellis Genge and Jaco Taute have all signed new contracts with Leicester Tigers.

The Premiership club confirmed the new deals for England internationals Youngs and Ford at Welford Road were "long-term".

Along with England team-mate Genge, who has reportedly extended his contract by a year, scrum-half Youngs and fly-half Ford had each signed previous terms in January.

South Africa centre Taute, who joined from Munster last year, has also committed his future to the Tigers.

It means 17 Leicester players have now signed fresh terms despite reports of disputes during talks due to the reduction of the salary cap for the 2021-22 season, with Manu Tuilagi and Telusa Veainu among those to depart.

Director of rugby Geordan Murphy said seeing the likes of Ford "showing a belief in what we are building here and the vision we have for Leicester Tigers is exciting".

He added of Youngs: "Ben loves Leicester Tigers and, like all of us at this club, wants to see it get back to where it belongs.

"He knows there is a tough journey ahead which will take a lot of hard work, on and off the pitch, and has expressed throughout this process that he is committed to whatever it takes."

Leicester were 11th in the table, with four wins from 13 matches, when the Premiership season was suspended in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only Saracens keeping off them bottom as they were deducted 105 points for breaching salary cap regulations.

The competition is due to resume from August 15.

Stade Francais have signed Telusa Veainu from Leicester Tigers, as well as Gloucester's Gerbrandt Grobler. 

Veainu, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, has agreed a three-year deal with the Top 14 heavyweights as Leicester cut costs due to the coronavirus crisis. 

South African lock Grobler will join Veainu in Paris, signing on for two seasons with the option for a third. 

Tigers director of rugby Geordan Murphy spoke of his disappointment that Tongan Veainu has left Welford Road after almost five seasons at the Premiership club. 

"Murphy said: "We thank Telusa for all that he has given to Leicester Tigers during his time with us. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been lost on anyone and, while we hoped to see Telusa play out the remaining one-and-a-half seasons of his contract with us at Tigers, we appreciate the varying individual circumstances of all our players and wish him, his partner and child well in their next chapter in Paris." 

England centre Manu Tuilagi also left the Tigers last week after failing to agree terms. 

Wales international Jonah Holmes has joined the Dragons on a long-term deal after he was released from the last year of his Leicester Tigers contract.

Holmes, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, scored 24 tries in three seasons with Premiership side Leicester.

The 27-year-old has been capped three times by Wales, and Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan hopes the region can help him become an established Test player.

Ryan said: "Jonah is a top-class international who is excited to make the move to Wales and join Dragons.

"Jonah has big ambitions, in both the domestic and international arena, and we are pleased that he believes that Dragons is the right fit for him to be able to achieve those goals."

Holmes is relishing a new challenge in the Pro 14.

He said: "I'm pleased to finalise the move and can't wait to get started in a new competition and link up with my team-mates.

"I've spoken at length to Dean, know the ambition for the future and have seen the squad that is being built. I'm excited by the challenge ahead.

"My focus is now totally on Dragons, getting integrated into the squad as soon as possible and trying to get my name on that first team sheet."

Clubs from English rugby's Premiership have been told they cannot start training for at least two weeks, dealing a blow to hopes of a resumption in July.

Last month it was suggested Premiership clubs were working towards a best-case scenario of the league returning on the weekend of July 3-5 and playing midweek games with the hopes of an August 15 final.

However, Leicester Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy – who will step up to director of rugby in July – suggested teams will first need eight weeks to train.

With the Professional Game Board (PGB) agreeing more time is needed before sessions can safely begin, it appears August is the earliest the season can continue.

Chris Booy, chair of the PGB, said: "A meeting of the Professional Game Board was held which incorporates representatives of the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby, Rugby Players Association and Championship clubs.

"The group agreed that, although a huge amount of work is being undertaken to enable a safe return to training for Premiership clubs, more time was needed to ensure that players, staff and officials can return to a safe training environment, and that is not expected to be in place for a minimum of two weeks.

"Safety and welfare remains of paramount importance to all of us in the rugby community, and we look forward to the season resuming when it is safe to do so.

"Further updates on progress will be made in due course."

England wing Jonny May will leave Leicester Tigers and return to Gloucester at the end of the Premiership season.

The 30-year-old joined Leicester in 2017 having previously spent eight years at Gloucester, with whom he came through the academy.

May, who has 56 Test caps, will move back to his former club once the 2019-20 season, currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, concludes.

The prolific May has scored 30 tries in 44 appearances for the Tigers, although the club sit second-bottom of the table, with only Saracens – who have a points deduction – below them. 

"I'm proud of my time at Leicester Tigers," May said as the team announced his move on Saturday.

"What an amazing experience to have played for such a great club. It really has developed my game and it's brought the best out in me as a player. I gave 100 per cent every time I put the shirt on and I have no regrets.

"For numerous reasons it hasn't worked out for me to stay on at Leicester Tigers, which is a shame.

"It's been a challenging few years but I have made some great mates and worked with some brilliant people.

"I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy in this tough period and also really hope that things start improving and I get the opportunity to play for Leicester Tigers, with my mates, a few more times before I leave.

"Thank you to everyone at Leicester Tigers, especially the fans, I'm sorry we haven't given you what you have wanted the last few seasons but I'm very optimistic about the future for Leicester Tigers."

On returning to Gloucester, who sit ninth in the table, May added: "Once I had made the decision to leave Leicester there was only ever one club I really wanted to play for. 

"I'm grateful to [director of rugby] David Humphreys and everyone at Gloucester Rugby who have found a way for me to rejoin. I'm very excited about being back in Cherry and White playing at Kingsholm again."

The Premiership has been suspended for five weeks and the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Premiership Rugby's decision followed new guidance from the United Kingdom government on Monday.

British prime minister Boris Johnson encouraged people to avoid mass gatherings and all "non-essential" travel and contact with others.

"The safety of our fans, players and staff is our first priority, and we would like to wish all of those who are affected our heartfelt best wishes and a very speedy recovery," a Premiership Rugby statement read.

"We'll continue to work closely with DCMS [the Departure for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] and Public Health England, and to follow the advice of medical experts, and work with our clubs to help them to support their own wider communities at this time."

The decision to call off the European rugby season was taken during a conference call on Monday.

It means the matches in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5 will not now go ahead as planned, although organisers hope to rearrange the fixtures for later dates.

In a statement, the board of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said: "While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, EPCR, in conjunction with the relevant leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to complete the 2019-20 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments at such a time as that aligns with preventative measures undertaken by an overwhelming majority of sport's governing bodies and tournament organisers in Europe.  

"EPCR's priority is the health and welfare of players and club staff, and an update regarding the knockout stages of the tournaments will be communicated to all stakeholders as soon as practicable."

Sam Simmonds and Olly Woodburn scored doubles as Exeter Chiefs ran in eight tries to obliterate Bath 57-20, sealing their return to the top of the Premiership.

Sale moved into first place on points difference with their emphatic win over London Irish on Friday, but Exeter swiftly returned to the summit with a dominant performance of their own.

They were 36-3 up when number eight Simmonds' second try one minute into the second half was successfully converted.

Bath then touched down three times to make the scoreline more respectable but could not avoid defeat, with Woodburn and Jack Maunder increasing Exeter's margin of victory in the closing stages.

Elsewhere on Saturday, a Saracens team that included Mako Vunipola earned a 24-13 home win over struggling Leicester Tigers thanks to two Alex Lewington tries.

Controversy has surrounded Vunipola, who was stood down by England for their Six Nations match against Wales after returning from Tonga via Hong Kong amid coronavirus fears, even though he has not displayed symptoms.

Ben White ran in Leicester's only try of the match in the second half to put his side ahead, but the momentum changed when Dominic Morris crossed for Sarries just after the visitors had Telusa Veainu sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Wasps claimed a third straight win under Lee Blackett to move above Bath and up to fifth place as they saw off Gloucester at the Ricoh Arena.

The hosts triumphed 39-22, having scored 22 unanswered points in the first 30 minutes. Gloucester have now suffered six consecutive defeats across all competitions.

Mako Vunipola will start for Saracens in their Premiership clash with Leicester Tigers on Saturday after being omitted from England's Six Nations squad to face Wales on "medical grounds".

England stood Vunipola down on the advice of their medical team amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the prop having briefly travelled through Hong Kong en route home from a trip to visit family in Tonga.

Though Vunipola was not placed in self-isolation and had not reported any illness, England felt it was best to leave him away from their "camp-based environment" ahead of Saturday's encounter at Twickenham.

Saracens took a different view, though, explaining that they followed guidance from the health authorities and that neither Mako Vunipola nor his injured brother Billy had "displayed symptoms of the coronavirus" following assessments.

Mako Vunipola will therefore take his place in Saracens' starting XV for the visit of Leicester.

Saracens are bottom of the table due to their 105-point deduction over salary cap breaches while the Tigers are directly above them in 11th, having won just four of their 12 fixtures to date.

Montpellier outside back Nemani Nadolo has agreed to join Leicester Tigers, while brothers Ben and Tom Youngs have signed new deals with the Premiership club.

A powerful runner, clinical finisher and accurate goal-kicker, former Fiji powerhouse Nadolo will move to Welford Road ahead of the 2020-21 season.

The prolific Nadolo, who can play on the wing or as a centre, has racked up over 1,000 points in domestic rugby and scored in excess of 150 professional tries.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said after landing the 32-year-old: "It's certainly one to get excited about, no matter who you are.

"He's a star of the international game and a player that crowds all over the world have been able to enjoy see play.

"Now, the Tigers faithful get that chance and the playing squad, as well as coaching staff, get the opportunity to work alongside and with Nemani from next season."

England scrum-half Ben Youngs and his older sibling, Tigers captain Tom, will line up with Nadolo next season after committing their futures to the club.

Murphy said: "Ben is Tigers through and through and, for more than a decade, has given everything for the badge.

"To have him recommit is sensational for everyone in Leicester; players, coaches, staff and fans."

He added of the skipper: "Tom is everything you can ask for and more in a club captain.

"His leadership and experience are imperative to what we are building here in Leicester and passion for Tigers is unrivalled."

Sale Sharks moved up to second in the Premiership with an easy 36-3 win over Leicester Tigers.

Second-bottom Leicester took the lead through Noel Reid's penalty but it was all downhill thereafter.

Marland Yarde's try was sandwiched between efforts from Bryn Evans and Coenie Oosthuizen as Sale took command and the wing scored each of the Sharks' second-half tries to complete his hat-trick.

Wasps routed already-relegated Saracens 60-10 in Friday's other game to go seventh.

Zack Kibirige and Brad Shields crossed for doubles while Jimmy Gopperth tallied 20 points with the boot as Wasps went level with Gloucester on 23 points in the fight for the European Challenge Cup places.

Curtis Rona scored a pair of tries as London Irish secured a 29-15 derby win at Harlequins, while Premiership high-flyers Sale Sharks were brought back down to earth by beleaguered Saracens.

Irish stunned title contenders Northampton Saints last time out and followed that up with a convincing bonus-point victory at The Stoop on Saturday.

Rona laid on the opening try for Matt Rogerson in treacherous conditions and the all-action wing grabbed his first of the afternoon after brilliant work from Ben Meehan.

A Marcus Smith penalty was Quins' only score of the first half and they were 17-3 down at the break after Stephen Myler was on the target from the tee at the other end, having converted both tries.

Alex Dombrandt powered his way over to reduce the deficit, but Rona dotted down again and Ollie Hoskins bagged the bonus point after Cadan Murley helped himself to Quins' second try in west London.

Sale missed the chance to move ahead of Northampton into second spot, going down 36-22 to champions Saracens at Allianz Park after beating leaders Exeter Chiefs in their previous match.

Rhys Carre, Rotimi Segun, Nick Isiekwe and Richard Barrington touched down for Saracens, while fit-again full-back Alex Goode shone in his first Premiership match of the season.

Wasps were beaten 18-9 by fellow strugglers Leicester Tigers at the end of a week that saw director of rugby Dai Young step back from first-team duties, while Bath edged out Worcester Warriors 22-21.

Sale Sharks survived a second-half fightback from Exeter Chiefs to secure a hard-earned 22-19 victory over the Premiership leaders.

Having headed into Saturday's encounter on the south coast without a defeat in all competitions since November, Exeter found themselves trailing 22-5 at the interval after a blistering first-half display from the visitors.

With Tom O'Flaherty sent to the sin bin early on Exeter, Sale ran in three tries in the first half – Chris Ashton, Daniel du Preez and Byron McGuigan getting on the scoresheet.

Rob du Preez added a further seven points, though Phil Dollman's try had handed the Chiefs some hope and Exeter gained 14 points in the space of seven minutes to set up a grandstand finale.

But Sale held firm, clinching a victory that lifted them into third, four points behind Exeter.

Elsewhere, Wasps ran in three tries in the second half to come from behind and edge out Worcester Warriors 30-26, with Dan Robson's late try proving decisive in a bonus-point win.

Wasps are eighth, level on points with the Warriors and three shy of Bath, who just got the better of Leicester Tigers – Tom Homer's double ultimately securing a 13-10 victory.

Meanwhile, Bristol Bears snapped a three-match losing streak with a convincing 34-16 triumph over west country rivals Gloucester, who slipped into fourth.

Callum Sheedy kicked 19 of the Bears' points, converting five penalties in the first half, with Bristol going over three times after the break.

Steve Borthwick is to take over as head coach of Leicester Tigers with Geordan Murphy appointed as director of rugby.

Murphy was appointed as full-time coach in December 2018 after an interim stint but the Tigers have struggled badly this season and are second bottom of the Premiership table with just two wins from 11 matches.

The Tigers have consequently opted for a reshuffle which will see Borthwick move to Welford Road at the end of his commitment to England.

Borthwick was forwards coach for an England side who reached the Rugby World Cup final and is working as skills coach under Eddie Jones for the upcoming Six Nations.

"The last four-and-a-half years working with the England team has been an incredible journey. I have worked with some brilliant players and staff," Borthwick told Leicester's official website. 

"In particular I would like thank Eddie Jones. To have worked with one of the greatest head coaches in the world for so long has been an unbelievable experience.

"I am delighted to be joining Leicester Tigers as head coach. The Tigers have such a long and successful history and are one of the greatest rugby clubs in the game. 

"Welford Road, with the special atmosphere created by the club's incredible supporters roaring their team forward, is a very special place to be.

"We must now work to build upon that great history and create our future to get this club to the top of European rugby. It is a brilliant challenge and I am excited to start working with the players and everybody associated with the team.

"Geordan provides a link with the club's greatest teams and we will be working together to ensure that there are many successful days ahead for this club, and for our supporters to enjoy."

Murphy enjoyed a legendary playing with the Tigers, winning eight Premiership titles and back-to-back Heineken Cups and the Irishman welcomed the addition of Borthwick.

"The players and staff have all been working incredibly hard to get the club back on a pathway to where we all want to be, at the top of the professional game," Murphy said.

"We have been building a lot of the foundations around recruitment and retention of the playing squad and the success of our academy structure, and we look forward to Steve's arrival to drive the playing squad onwards.

"Steve is a world-class coach with the skills and determination to get the best out of everyone around him."

Relegation-threatened Saracens bounced back from a defeat to Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs with a 62-5 thrashing of Worcester Warriors, while there were also wins for Leicester Tigers and Gloucester on Saturday.

Champions Sarries have now collected more points this season than Exeter, but a 35-point deduction for breaching salary-cap regulations means they remain bottom of the pile and in the red.

However, the beleaguered the London club are making swift progress in their survival bid and scored 10 tries in rout of Worcester at Allianz Park in a week that saw Nigel Wray resign as chairman.

It was one-way traffic from the outset as Ben Earl opened the scoring after six minutes, with the first of Rotimi Segun's first-half double quickly following.

Brad Barritt and Mako Vunipola also went over before the break, and Sarries matched their haul from the first 40 minutes in the second period.

Richard Barrington, Maro Itoje, Duncan Taylor, Jackson Wray and, finally, in the 81st minute, Elliot Daly got on the scoresheet, with Owen Farrell nailing six conversion attempts.

There was a derby win for Gloucester as they put on a late show to beat Bath 29-15 at Kingsholm.

Rhys Priestland's five penalties had visitors Bath in front until just before the hour-mark, but tries from Gerbrandt Grobler and Ruan Ackermann in quick succession set up an ultimately comfortable victory.

Leicester got a much-needed win as they saw off Bristol Bears 31-18, led by England pair George Ford and Jonny May.

Tigers are only kept off the bottom of the table by Sarries, but a strong start set up a precious second victory of the season in the early kick-off.

Bristol-born Ellis Genge England prop went over with just three minutes played, and May and Ford crossed later in a first half that saw two Bears men sent to the sin bin.

Although Bristol battled back early in the second period, May had his second try with six minutes remaining, while Ford dispatched all four conversions and a penalty to leave Leicester 18 points better off than European Champions Sarries.

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