Billy Vunipola formally warned by Saracens

Date published: April 16 2019

England and Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola has been warned over his future conduct by his club following his recent social media activity.

Vunipola showed online support to Australia and Waratahs full-back Israel Folau after his much publicised posts, which have dominated the rugby union headlines around the world over the past week.

The England international had liked Folau’s post and after being criticised for doing that Vunipola went on to post on his own Instagram account that people should “live their lives how God intended”.

“Man was made for woman to procreate, that was the goal no?” he added at the time.

Saracens have since released a statement, saying: “Senior representatives of the club yesterday held lengthy discussions with Billy Vunipola regarding his recent social media activity.

“At Saracens, we are one family, open to all with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility. We recognise the complexity of different belief systems and understand Billy’s intention was to express the word of God rather than cause offence. However, he made a serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion, which is inconsistent with the values of the club and contravenes his contractual obligations. The player has been formally warned about his future conduct.”

Vunipola added on Monday: “I can see that my recent post has hurt people. My intention was never to cause suffering. My intention was to express my belief in the word of God. These beliefs are a source of great strength, comfort and guidance in my life. This is deeply personal and does not represent the views of my team.

“Anyone who knows me, knows I live with kindness and love towards ALL people.

“I have faith. My Christian faith has sustained me through the ups and many downs of my life. God has given and continues to give me many reasons in life to be grateful.”

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has also warned the player, releasing a statement on Tuesday morning.

“Following a meeting between the RFU and Billy Vunipola, the Saracens forward has been issued with a formal warning under RFU rule 5.12 for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or the game,” it read.

“The warning will be retained on his disciplinary record for a period of five years and may be taken into account in future disciplinary proceedings.

“During the meeting the player expressed genuine regret at his public comments and understood that he had caused hurt and offence as a result of his actions.

“He has been reminded of his responsibilities as an England player and as an ambassador for the game, which values inclusivity and respect.”