Saracens to select Billy Vunipola as RFU bosses call him in for grilling over controversial social media comments
- Saracens will continue to pick Billy Vunipola as he continues to be grilled by RFU
- He’ll be hauled in front of RFU bosses this week over his controversial comments
- Vunipola voiced his support for homophobic Israel Folau in an Instagram post
- Sportsmail understands no disciplinary process has yet been launched by RFU
Saracens will continue to pick Billy Vunipola as he is set for a momentous week on and off the field over his controversial social media comments.
The England No 8 will be hauled in front of RFU bosses this week before Saracens’ European semi-final against Munster.
Vunipola voiced his support for homophobic Israel Folau in an Instagram post on Friday — which is still up on his profile and has now been ‘liked’ more than 7,600 times — in which he said ‘Man was made for woman to procreate’.
Saracens will continue to pick Billy Vunipola as he faces a grilling from RFU bosses this week
Ian McGeechan, the legendary Lions coach, said Vunipola was ‘naive’ to blurt his views on social media and has put the RFU and Saracens in ‘an extremely awkward position’.
Rugby Australia want to sack full back Folau, 30, but could well face a legal challenge. The Wallaby himself continues to stand by his view that ‘hell awaits’ homosexuals and told an Australian newspaper he would accept it if his rugby career was over.
‘I live for God now,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it.
Vunipola will be hauled in front of RFU bosses over his controversial social media comments
‘In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.’
There is no indication that England or Saracens will axe Vunipola in light of his views, but the national union will hold a meeting with him in the coming days.
Sportsmail understands that no disciplinary process has yet been launched by the RFU and they are viewing the meeting with the star as a preliminary discussion.
The expectation is that Saracens will still select Vunipola.
He came on from the bench in Saturday’s 23-21 defeat against Bristol at Ashton Gate, was booed by the home fans and at the end of the match ‘It’s Raining Men’ was played over the stadium sound system.
Israel Folau said on Wednesday that ‘hell awaits’ homosexuals in comments on social media
After showing support to a homophobic Instagram post published by Israel Folau
Vunipola could well face a more vociferous backlash from Munster fans in Coventry on Saturday in the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final.
Saracens boss Mark McCall has repeatedly refused to be drawn on the matter – deciding to hide behind the club statement sent out on Friday.
This said Vunipola’s comments were ‘inconsistent’ with club values and that they took the matter ‘very seriously’ and would be handling it internally.
‘I’m not going to give you my opinion on it right now,’ said McCall after Saturday’s match.
‘The club have made their statement which I support. We’ll be dealing with the matter internally.
‘We haven’t sat down with him as a club. I’ll talk to him myself, but the club will talk to him as well in due course.
‘It was perhaps unexpected. I don’t want to get dragged into this. You’re just going to want my opinion on this, which I’m not going to give you.
‘He’s a human being. He’s also very keen to do well for his team-mates. He’s a great team man and a great club man.
‘The decision to select him was made before what happened, happened. We saw no reason not to keep him in the squad.’
Scott Hastings, the former Lions and Scotland player whose son Corey is gay and married to his partner, said Vunipola needed to ‘understand the hurt he has caused’.
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