Current Affairs

Billy Vunipola escapes sack after anti-LGBT comments

Reiss Smith April 15, 2019
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Billy Vunipola

Billy Vunipola of Saracens (David Rogers/Getty Images)

England rugby player Billy Vunipola has been cautioned by his team Saracens, after becoming embroiled in the Israel Folau homophobia row.

The 26-year-old met with senior representatives of the club on Sunday (April 14), three days after he liked an Instagram post from Folau warning gay people “hell awaits you.”

Vunipola doubled down on his support for the Australian player—who has since been dropped by the Australian Rugby Union—in an Instagram post on Friday (April 12)

He wrote that Folau “was saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?”

Saracens caution Billy Vunipola

Saracens issued a statement on Monday (April 15) confirming that despite his actions, Vunipola will continue on.

“At Saracens, we are one family, open to all with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility,” the statement said.

“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.”

“He made a serious error of judgement.”


Vunipola had been signed as the new face of Channel 4’s rugby coverage, but was dropped by the broadcaster following widespread outrage.

On Saturday a spokesperson said: “These views are incompatible with our values as an inclusive broadcaster and in light of this Billy Vunipola won’t be used as a contributor in Channel 4’s rugby coverage.”

Israel Folau dropped by Rugby Australia

Folau was sanctioned by Rugby Australia on Monday (April 15). If he does not respond with a request for a code of conduct hearing, his contract will be terminated.

Chief executive of Rugby Australia, Raelene Castle said: “Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations.

Israel Folau: Australia ends rugby player’s contract over anti-gay posts
Israel Folau (Matt King/Getty)

“It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.”

On Sunday (April 14) Folau told the Sydney Morning Herald that he stood by his comments.

“I can’t change what the word of God says,” he added.

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