Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

Billy Vunipola retained on bench as Saracens make four XV changes

By Liam Heagney
Saracens' Billy Vunipola in action versus Bath (Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Billy Vunipola has kept his place on the Saracens bench in the club’s first match since his arrest and fine in Spain on a team bonding session. The back-rower, who was a 57th-minute introduction last time out at The Rec on April 26, found himself tasered twice in a bar in Mallorca before he was arrested.

ADVERTISEMENT

Following his payment of a €240 fine following an express trial after he was charged with resisting the law, a Saracens investigation concluded with the club taking no further action against their player.

However, the 31-year-old, who next season will be joining Montpellier on a two-year deal, learned on Thursday that an RFU warning about his behaviour would remain on his record for the next five years and could be used in any future disciplinary hearings.

Video Spacer

Pieter-Steph du Toit with Big Jim – Teaser trailer | RPTV

Double World Cup winning Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit hosts Jim Hamilton in Japan for an all-encompassing chat about the Rugby World Cup, horrific injuries and Chasing the Sun 2. Watch the full chat on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

Video Spacer

Pieter-Steph du Toit with Big Jim – Teaser trailer | RPTV

Double World Cup winning Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit hosts Jim Hamilton in Japan for an all-encompassing chat about the Rugby World Cup, horrific injuries and Chasing the Sun 2. Watch the full chat on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

With the fall-out from the Spanish incident now complete, Vunipola will take his place on a Saracens bench that has a six forwards/two backs split for this Saturday’s trip to fourth-place Bristol.

Having pipped Bath 15-12 to keep hold of second place, the Londoners have decided to change three of their starting pack with Mako Vunipola, Marco Riccioni and Hugh Tizard all promoted from the bench in place of Eroni Mawi, Christian Judge and Nick Isiekwe.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Bristol
20 - 41
Full-time
Saracens
All Stats and Data

Mawi and Isiekwe are both named on the bench on this occasion but it will be Ollie Hoskins who provides the tighthead back-up to Riccioni. Another bench switch sees Theo McFarland included at the expense of Toby Knight for what is poised to be the Samoan’s 5oth club appearance.

Meanwhile, the sole starting XV backline change sees Ivan van Zyl named at No9, with Aled Davies dropping to the bench.

ADVERTISEMENT

Director of rugby Mark McCall told the Saracens website: “We know we are playing against a team who have got a pile of momentum. They are really clear about how they want to play, and they are running a lot of ball but they do it in a really well-organised, well-coached way.

“They don’t mind making the odd mistake, and they will keep going on it so we are going to have to be at our very best defensively on Saturday.

“Quietly we have been gathering a bit of momentum. We have won four out of our last five Premiership matches and we have got 20 points out of the last 25, which is really timely for us.

“Within those matches, we have had a couple of really good performances, very different performances really, the Quins game at Tottenham where we showed a different side of ourselves, and the Bath game a really gritty win down there.

ADVERTISEMENT

“So those two important wins for us, and just performances that remind you what you are capable of, which is really important.”

Saracens (vs Bristol, Saturday): 15. Elliot Daly; 14. Rotimi Segun, 13. Lucio Cinti, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Tom Parton; 10. Owen Farrell (capt), 9. Ivan van Zyl; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Hugh Tizard, 6. Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Tom Willis. Reps: 16. Theo Dan, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Ollie Hoskins, 19. Nick Isiekwe, 20. Theo McFarland, 21. Billy Vunipola, 22. Aled Davies, 23. Alex Goode

Related

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

LIVE

{{item.title}}

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

FEATURE
FEATURE Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink
Search