Saracens and England player, Billy Vunipola, has addressed the recent controversy over his social media post defending the views of Australia’s Israel Folau.
Last week, the 26-year-old ‘liked’ Folau’s Instagram post in which he warned gays, drunks, and adulterers, among others, that ‘hell awaits them’.
Vunipola then took to Instagram to defend his actions, explaining that it was the point of view he grew up believing. The post sparked a huge response and Vunipola was booed off the pitch following Saracens loss to Bristol at the weekend.
“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.
Club Statement regarding Billy Vunipola’s social media activity.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) April 15, 2019
“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.”
Meanwhile, in a statement Saracens confirmed that “lengthy discussions” were held with the England number 8 and he has been “formally warned” about his future conduct.
“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.”
Earlier today, Rugby Australia confirmed that they have issued Folau with a “high-level” breach notice which warrants a contract termination after head coach, Michael Cheika admitted that Folau had ruled himself out of contention for the Australian World Cup squad.