Billy Vunipola has received a ‘formal warning‘ from the Rugby Football Union after he defended the social media posts of Israel Folau in which he stated that ‘hell awaits‘ gay people.
After a meeting the RFU made the following statement, “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.”
On Monday the 26 year old made his own statement which highlighted his remorse, “I can see that my recent post has hurt people,” said the Saracens forward. “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. Anyone who knows me, knows I live with kindness and love towards ALL people.”
The controversy has come at an inconvenient time as Saracens prepare for their biggest game of the season so far against Munster in the European Champions Cup. Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall admitted that the situation has been ‘a distraction‘ and thanked both the club and the RFU for acting so quickly to in its resolution. Vunipola was also on the receiving end of a warning from his club.
All parties will hope that this is the end of the matter and that Vunipola doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Folau by committing future errors of judgement which cause offence, any such happening would incur a much more serious penalty. Now everyone can move on and focus on what should be a blockbuster between Saracens and Munster on Saturday at the Ricoh Arena.
Written by Stefan Hamilton