Billy Vunipola has moved to clarify his defending of a homophobic Instagram post by Israel Folau but stopped short of offering an apology for his actions.
The England No.8 has been formally warned about his future conduct by his Gallagher Premiership employers Saracens after he ‘liked’ a post from Folau in which he said that homosexuals and other “sinners” were destined for “hell”.
The former Pontypool schoolboy then supported Folau and his homophobic stance with his own post on Instagram in which he said that “man was made for woman to procreate, that was the goal, no?”
Saracens, who held “lengthy discussions” on Sunday with their back-row star, branded Vunipola’s actions “a serious error of judgement” on Monday evening.
And they posted a statement from Vunipola on their website to help explain the reasoning behind his social media posts.
“I can see that my recent post has hurt people,” said Vunipola.
“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.”
Vunipola has also been summoned to talks with the Rugby Football Union but the governing body is refusing to provide any details for its meeting, insisting it remains a private matter.
Twickenham has also been wary at this stage of saying whether disciplinary action will be taken, but if it is decided to pursue the matter further, it would most likely be under the broad charge of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’.
Condemnation of his views has also come from Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association, while on Saturday Vunipola was booed during his appearance as a second-half replacement at Bristol.
Rugby Australia confirmed on Monday morning that it is pressing ahead with plans to terminate Folau’s contract after its integrity unit ruled he had committed a “high-level breach of the professional players’ code of conduct”.
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