Saracens have formally warned Billy Vunipola over his future conduct after the England international offered a defence of Israel Folau’s controversial social media posts.
Last week, Folau sparked outrage with his opinions on homosexuality and gender, posting a message on Instagram that said “hell awaits” drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters, as well as: “REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES”.
Having avoided punishment last year for sharing similar sentiments, Folau on Monday was hit with a breach notice by Rugby Australia, who confirmed the full-back has 48 hours to request a hearing or face the sack.
Vunipola ‘liked’ Folau’s post before later offering an explanation for his actions, claiming his beliefs had been insulted. On Monday, Saracens released a statement condemning the number eight’s “serious error of judgement”.
“Senior representatives of the club yesterday held lengthy discussions with Billy Vunipola regarding his recent social media activity,” the statement read.
“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.”
Sarries simultaneously released a statement from Vunipola, who took the opportunity to once again explain his support of Folau’s post.
“I can see that my recent post has hurt people,” Vunipola said. “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.
“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.”
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