Rugby aces charged with rape

Three rugby aces have been charged with raping a woman the day after Wigan Warriors Academy won last year's Grand Final.

Lewis Heckford, Declan O’Donnell and Bradley Lawrence appeared at Bolton Crown Court after they were charged in relation to an alleged rape and sexual assault in Wigan in 2015.

Heckford, 19, and O’Donnell, 18, are believed to be currently playing for Wigan Warriors Academy while 20-year-old Lawrence is thought to have previously been a youth player for the club.

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All three have also represented England, playing for youth teams at various age levels.

The offence is alleged to have taken place on September 26, the day after Lawrence and Heckford played for the team which won the Academy Grand Final.

O’Donnell, of Concorde Avenue, Wigan, has been charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault.

Heckford, of Malvern Mews, Wakefield, and Lawrence, of Causeway Road, Seaton, Workington, are both charged with one count of rape.

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All three spoke only to confirm their names and did not enter pleas as Judge Timothy Clayson felt significant changes are likely to be made to the indictments.

The trio will appear again at the crown court on December 9 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

A provisional trial date has been set for June 5. All have been released on conditional bail.

No-one from the club was available for comment.

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