Billy Vunipola handed formal warning by RFU after Saracens No 8 expressed ‘genuine regret’

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Billy Vunipola handed formal warning by RFU after Saracens No 8 expressed ‘genuine regret’ over controversial social media comments

  • The RFU have given England and Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola a formal warning 
  • Vunipola was criticised for ‘liking’ a homophobic Instagram post by Israel Folau
  • Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for saying gay people are destined for ‘hell’
  • The RFU say Vunipola expressed ‘genuine regret’ over his social media remarks

Billy Vunipola has been handed a formal warning by the RFU over his controversial social media comments in support of homophobic remarks made by Israel Folau. 

The England No 8 was criticised for ‘liking’ a post from Folau in which the Australian full-back said that homosexuals and other ‘sinners’ were destined for ‘hell’, before commenting that ‘man was made for woman to procreate’. 

Folau has since been sacked by Rugby Australia for his second anti-gay social media posting this year and Vunipola received a formal warning from his Gallagher Premiership employers Saracens.

The RFU have given Billy Vunipola a formal warning for his controversial social media remarks

The RFU have given Billy Vunipola a formal warning for his controversial social media remarks 

Vunipola received a formal warning from Saracens over controversial social media comments

Vunipola received a formal warning from Saracens over controversial social media comments

In a statement, the RFU said: ‘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. 

‘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.’ 

Vunipola was dropped by Channel 4’s rugby coverage following his comments and then booed when he played against Bristol at Ashton Gate on Saturday. 

He published a statement yesterday on Saracens' website apologising for his comments

He published a statement yesterday on Saracens’ website apologising for his comments

Following lengthy discussions with his club on Monday the 26-year-old attempted to clarify his Instagram post, which he sent out on Friday. In a statement he conceded he had ‘hurt’ people but stopped short of apologising to the LGBT community.

The statement read: ‘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.’

 

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