Sale Sharks suspend England rugby player arrested over rape allegation


The England rugby player arrested over the alleged rape of a teenager who claims she was drugged plays for Sale Sharks, the club has confirmed.

A 29 year-old, who is not currently a part of Eddie Jones’s plans, was quizzed on Sunday along with a prostitute after an incident in Manchester.

Premiership club Sale issued a statement confirming the player was on their books within hours of self-declared sex worker Sandra Ntonya confirming she had also been held.

Ms Ntonya, 41 told the Mail Online that she was a sex worker charging £160 per hour – but denied allegations she administered a drug to the alleged victim at her home in Manchester.

She declined to name the rugby player involved but said he had met the alleged victim in a nightclub where she was celebrating her 18th birthday. He then brought the alleged victim back to Ntonya’s home for a “threesome”, she claims, though she denies she got involved. “I know him as he is a client of mine,” Ms Ntonya said.

“The next morning… I just took the girl out and rang the police,” she added.

In a statement issued earlier today, Greater Manchester Police said a 29-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of an alleged attack on a woman “in her late teens” in the Openshaw area of Manchester.

Sale Sharks later released a statement saying they “have been made aware of an allegation against one of its players and the subsequent arrest of that player by Greater Manchester Police on Sunday”.

“The player in question has been suspended by Sale Sharks until further notice and is currently cooperating with police officers to assist in their investigation,” the club added. “As this matter is subject to a legal process there will be no further comment at this time.”

The attack is alleged to have taken place after Sale’s defeat at Bristol Bears. Greater Manchester Police had declined to identify the suspects, but confirmed a 29-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of rape and a woman, 41, was held on suspicion of administering a substance to the alleged victim.

“Officers were called shortly before 11am on Sunday 9 January 2022 to a report of a sexual assault on a female on Thorpeness Square in Manchester,” a statement said.

“A woman in her late teens was reported to have been sexually assaulted. She is currently being supported by specialist officers. A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of rape and a 41-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of administering a substance with intent to cause a sexual offence. “Both have since been released on bail as enquiries continue and a number of lines of enquiry are being followed up by detectives.”

Details of an arrest on suspicion of rape relating to an unnamed international rugby player first surfaced on Tuesday night, and, prior to Sale releasing their statement, Danny Cipriani’s wife had described the couple’s upset at being wrongly linked with the case.

Victoria, 41, who married the Bath player in a low key ceremony last year, told of her “great alarm and distress” at being approached at their home about the incident on Wednesday morning.

She said other journalists had apparently guessed wrongly “that the story already in some parts of the press about a rugby player and his partner being arrested on suspicion of sexual offences might relate to Danny and myself”.

Writing on Instagram, she added: “I presume they are making that wild guess because I am the same age as the woman [who] is reported to be in the stories about that case. This is completely unwarranted and wholly unacceptable. It is ridiculous, in fact, but sadly it’s also typical of the intrusion we often have to deal with.”


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