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Dublin: 14°C Friday 18 September 2020

Saracens 'formally warned' Vunipola over his defence of Isreal Folau on social media

The England player says his ‘intention was never to cause suffering’.

Saracens' Billy Vunipola.
Saracens' Billy Vunipola.
Image: Richard Sellers

SARACENS SAY THAT they have formally warned Billy Vunipola over his defence of Isreal Folau’s controversial views on social media.

The English side released a statement today on their player’s social media activity and it reads, in full:

“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.”

Last week, the England number eight liked Folau’s Instagram post in which he said that “hell awaits” drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters, and noted “REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES”.

26-year-old Vunipola then defended his actions on his own Instargram account, explaining his own beliefs:

View this post on Instagram

So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

A post shared by Billy Vunipola (@vunipola_billy) on

And today, he delved deeper into his recent social media activity.

“I can see that my recent post has hurt people,” a post on the Saracens website reads.

“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.”

Australia fullback Folau was handed his sack notice today, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika saying that the player’s “disrespectful” anti-gay comments had ruled him out of selection as the World Cup looms.

The deeply religious 30-year-old was given 48 hours to respond to a Rugby Australia charge, but said last night that he stood by his comments and is prepared to choose his faith over rugby.

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Emma Duffy

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