AAP Rugby

England’s Vunipola handed RFU warning

By AAP Newswire

England and Saracens rugby star Billy Vunipola has been issued with a formal warning by the Rugby Football Union for a homophobic comment made on his Instagram account last week.

Vunipola was summoned to talks by the RFU to discuss a post that read "Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?".

The loose forward also liked a social media post by Wallabies fullback Israel Folau stating "hell awaits" for "homosexuals".

Folau has been stood down and faces the sack after receiving a breach notice from Rugby Australia over his controversial posts, having been warned after similar 2018 posts.

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."

Vunipola has escaped a fine or ban from Twickenham, making him available for England's four warm-up Tests ahead of this year's Rugby World Cup.

But the warning will be retained on his disciplinary record for five years.

"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," the RFU statement said.

Saracens conducted their own internal investigation and, following lengthy discussions with Vunipola, a formal warning was issued, but the club also opted against imposing a fine or suspension.

In his own statement, Vunipola insisted his "intention was never to cause suffering" but stopped short of offering an apology.

Despite clarifying his position, the offending post remains visible on his Instagram account.