Bundee Aki was sent off in the 64th minute.
Video replays showed that Aki’s shoulder appeared to make heavy contact with Vunipola’s head, with referee Mathieu Raynal deeming it a red card offence.
Ireland vs England.
Ireland welcomed England for their highly-anticipated Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium.
Heading into the game, Ireland faced the prospect of losing back-to-back home meetings for the first time in Six Nations history.
However, Farrell‘s men scored the first try of the game, when Keith Earls crossed the line following a pass from Jack Conan.
The best half Ireland have played for some time. Build up to the Conan try brilliant to watch. Scramble defense 👌 too.
— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) March 20, 2021
The men in green continued to build on their impressive first-half showing as Conan grabbed his side’s second try of the match, leaving them with a 20-6 lead by halftime.
In the second half, Ireland continued to pressure the English but Aki’s seemingly momentary lapse of judgement allowed England back into the tie.
In the 63rd minute, Aki collided with Vunipola, leaving the number eight flat on the pitch with players gathering around him in concern.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 20, 2021
Referee Raynal was heard saying that there was contact with Aki’s shoulder and Vunipola’s head, with “no mitigation”.
As a result, Aki was brandished a red card and was seen walking off the pitch shaking his head.
With Ireland a man down, England quickly capitalised to score a try in the 66th minute as Ben Youngs darted around the corner to cross the line.
Despite the shaky events in the second half, Ireland recovered well and went on to secure a comfortable 32-18 victory in the end.
Social media reaction.
Naturally, Aki’s sending off generated plenty of reaction on social media. We’ve compiled some of the best below.
England have been pumped. Nothing against Aki but that’s red
— Tom May (@TomMay1) March 20, 2021
Bundee Aki deserved to be sent off – dangerous hit, but it was a genuine attempt at a tackle on Vunipola.
— Tommy Rooney (@TomasORuanaidh) March 20, 2021
I'm English. That should not be a red card. Rugby is a joke now. Very harsh on Bundee Aki, he's practically on his knees making a 'high tackle'. So very disappointing to see how far the sport has fallen. #IREvENG
— ɢʀᴜᴍᴘᴘᴇ1 (@Grumppe1) March 20, 2021
Rugby has gone to the dogs. No chance that's a red card for Bundee Aki!
— Paddy Tierney (@PaddyTierney21) March 20, 2021
Sigh. Once again a ref finds madness where the rest of us find normality. Feel for Bundee Aki. That is harsh.
— Brenden Nel (@BrendenNel) March 20, 2021
What's Bundee Aki supposed to do when Billy Vunipola makes himself almost half a foot smaller🤷🏻♂️ #IREvENG
— John McHugh (@KillerMcHugh) March 20, 2021
Looks like Bundee Aki might become the first Ireland player to be sent off twice #IREvENG
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) March 20, 2021
Big fan of Bundee Aki breaking jaws
— Minister for Spuds at the Dept of Bacon & Cabbage (@FCTwenteBenson) March 20, 2021
#SixNationsRugby I don’t feel that’s a red !? Tough on Bundee Aki that !
— Matt Gilbert (@ReturnofdGilb) March 20, 2021