Billy Vunipola was booed today on his first on-field appearance since defending controversial Wallaby Israel Folau on Instagram.
The 15,000 strong crowd were clearly aware of the unfolding controversy and used it to mercilessly rib Vunipola. The PA also appeared to join in, blasting ‘It’s Raining Men’ over the loudspeakers at full time.
— Defender (@Halo_Lawyer) April 13, 2019
The controversy over Vunipola failed to detract from a remarkable win for the Bears, who secured a win with a 81st minute Ian Madigan kick, which sent the stadium into hysterics at the final whistle.
SCENES! ? pic.twitter.com/L38MluTIQX
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) April 13, 2019
The booing of the heretofore popular England star is the latest development in the unfolding controversy surrounding Folau and players like Vunipola who appear to support him.
On Friday Harlequins prop Joe Marler’s took to goading Vunipola on Twitter over his support of Folau.
The former England prop had first taken aim directly at Folau after the controversy broke over the Wallaby’s star most recent homophobic outbursts on social media – sending the fullback a picture of two men kissing.
Yesterday he turned his addition to Vunipola, who has been pilloried for his support of Folau’s anti-gay Instagram message. In an apparent defence of his fellow Christian’s view, Vunipola has liked Folau’s post and states on his own account that “Man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?”
“I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God.”
In reference to one of the ‘sins’ on the list, Marler tweeted a picture of Vunipola stumbling drunk out of a nightclub in Dublin.
— Joe Marler (@JoeMarler) April 12, 2019
Vunipola could face disciplinary action in response to the anti-gay position outlined in his post, although initially his England bosses are seeking talks.
“Rugby is an inclusive sport and we do not support these views. We will be meeting with Billy to discuss his social media posts,” an RFU spokeswoman said.
Saracens have subsequently issued a statement saying that Vunipola’s comments are “inconsistent” with the club’s beliefs and that internal discipline procedures will follow, however it appears that Vunipola’s activity have already had repercussions, with Channel 4 dropping Vunipola as the face of their European rugby coverage.
A spokesperson for Channel 4 has said that “(Billy Vunipola)’s views are incompatible with our values as an inclusive broadcaster and in light of this Billy Vunipola won’t be used as a contributor in Channel 4’s rugby coverage.”
The drama has also been the subject of humourous mischief makers on Twitter, not least this effort from comedian Simon O’Keefe.
In response to Billy Vunipola's homophobic statements @Saracens have announced their fining him 2 weeks worth of offshore payments
— Simon O'Keeffe (@okeeffesimon) April 12, 2019
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