Billy Vunipola handed formal warning by RFU after supporting Israel Folau comments


The RFU have formally warned Billy Vunipola and reminded him of his responsibilities as an England player after his support of Israel Folau’s anti-LGBT comments.

The England No 8 refused to ‘unlike’ the Australia full-back’s social media post last week, which featured a picture with the words: “Warning. Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators. Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.”

Vunipola expressed his sympathy for Folau’s views in his own social media post, which stated “Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?”.

The 26-year-old was formally warned by his club Saracens over his future conduct on Monday and the RFU have now followed suit.

An RFU statement read: “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.”

Saracens’ main sponsor, Allianz, have also issued a statement relating to Vunipola’s support of Folau on social media.

“Allianz believes in a fair and inclusive society where individuality is encouraged and supported by all,” it read.

“Respect for others is at the heart of this philosophy and this applies regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.

“Saracens have made clear statements in relation to this matter and we support their position and the action they have taken.”

Vunipola issued his own statement on Monday in which he acknowledged the “hurt” his comments had caused, but did not apologise.

He said: “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.”

Folau’s comments have been widely condemned and Rugby Australia (RA) have moved to terminate his contract.

As well as the Instagram post, he took to Twitter on Wednesday to criticise Tasmania’s decision to become the first Australian state to make it optional for parents to state the gender of their child on its birth certificate, saying: “The devil has blinded so many people to this world.”

Folau also posted similar comments last year, for which he was not sanctioned by RA, although he did acknowledge he had caused “grief to some people”.

The 30-year-old has said he is not worried if his comments end his rugby career.

(c) Sky News 2019: Billy Vunipola handed formal warning by RFU after supporting Israel Folau comments

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