Manu Tuilagi, 22, of the British and Irish Lions professional rugby team, was caught on camera Monday in a moment of boyish horseplay when he attempted to 'prank' Prime Minister David Cameron. Tuilagi, a standout player of this all-star squad that was selected to play in the 2013 Tour to Australia, was behind Prime Minister Cameron in a celebratory visit to Downing Street giving him "bunny ears". After the historic 2-1 Test series victory over Australia in June and July, gathered for a small ceremony and group picture with Cameron at the time of the incident.
Tuilagi, who is no stranger to wild and juvenile antics since his initial success in professional rugby, issued an apology via Twitter shortly after he had realized the picture was going viral.
Apologies for messing around on Lions photo. No offence intended. Great day at Downing Street. Thanks to Prime Minister for hosting us.
— ManuSamoa Tuilagi (@Manutuilagi) September 16, 2013
In spite of the highly mixed reactions as the photo went viral, the Prime Minister brushed the situation from his shoulders. Although Prime Minister Cameron took the situation lightly, many people had negative feelings about the situation, including Tuilagi's Leicester Tigers coach, Richard Cockerill. In his statement to BBC Radio, the coach said, "He should know better. He is old enough and wise enough to know he shouldn't have done it." Fellow teammate Ben Youngs Tweeted: "The man just couldn't stop himself," clearly making light of a situation that many people looked at the act in juvenile disgust.
Speculations about potential consequences for this behavior that many have deemed as disrespectful are generally predicting that the player will not be reprimanded. Possibly due to the quick public apology through Twitter, there was very little time for any animosity to develop. Tuilagi and the team maintain that it was just a picture taken at an inappropriate time of horseplay, and the act was in no way malicious or an attempt to embarrass PM Cameron.
Image courtesy of newnewssss via YouTube.