MATCH
CENTRE
All fixtures and scores here!
Login
Logout
Show scores

Billy Vunipola: Pitch invader held

Back

Pitch invader held after confronting Billy Vunipola during lap of honour

Billy Vunipola was apparently confronted by a pitch invader following Saracens’ convincing win over Munster in their European Champions Cup semi-final at the Ricoh Arena.

A fan ran onto the pitch at the end of the match and appeared to confront Vunipola during the players’ lap of honour.

The pitch invader appeared to gesture to the Saracens player with his fingers.

A spokesperson for European Professional Club Rugby said: “EPCR does not condone the entry of a spectator to the field of play.

“Following the regrettable incident at the Ricoh Arena, the spectator in question is currently being detained by the stadium authorities.”

Vunipola had been booed throughout the game after a week that saw him receive formal warnings from his club and the Rugby Football Union.

Two-time Champions Cup winners Saracens’ 32-16 triumph saw them through to a third European final in four seasons, with Leinster or Toulouse awaiting them in Newcastle next month.

Continue reading below…

Video Spacer

Vunipola added on BT Sport: “It is important we enjoy tonight, we will look to the final when it comes. We are back here next week and hopefully we can put out a performance we can be proud of.

“I am just excited as everyone else to watch tomorrow. Toulouse are an awesome team, they surprised a lot of people by beating Racing but we weren’t surprised.

“We know what Leinster bring. They have flair, structure and world-class players, so we look forward to playing another final and are just thankful to be there.”

Vunipola spoke about the support he received from his Saracens team-mates following a difficult week.

Speaking after the semi-final victory, the England international said: “Behind closed doors I felt a lot of love, a lot of kindness shown to me. I am just very grateful to be part of this team.

“From my point of view, I believe in what I believe in. There was no intention to hurt anyone. I am just grateful to play.”

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said he did not see the post-match incident, while a question on the matter to Munster boss Johann Van Graan at his press conference was blocked by one of Munster’s media team.

McCall said: “Billy was outstanding today, and so were all of his team-mates, to be honest.

“As a group, we were determined not to let this week pass us by because we work incredibly hard to be involved in weeks like this one, games like this one.

“And we ended up having a brilliant week, and you can see that in the performance today. You could see how tight we were.

“The club dealt with it (Vunipola social media posts). It’s been dealt with, it was dealt with decisively, it was dealt with quickly and it was dealt with, in my opinion, fairly.

“Then we just got on with the rugby, and that’s what we are here to do, get on with the rugby.

“I thought we played really well. Although the scoreboard said 12-9 at half-time, it didn’t feel like that.

“The thing that pleased me most was that the players understood that the scoreboard did not necessarily reflect how well we had played and what we were building towards.

“I was just really pleased with our intensity, which was relentless the whole game, and the control we had emotionally as well.”

A final against Leinster or Toulouse awaits for Saracens in Newcastle next month as the English outfit target a third Champions Cup title in four seasons.

Fly-half Owen Farrell was the architect of victory, kicking 22 points, while Vunipola and flanker Michael Rhodes touched down.

Despite wing Darren Sweetnam’s try, two Tyler Bleyendaal penalties, a long-range Conor Murray strike and JJ Hanrahan conversion, Munster suffered a seventh successive European semi-final defeat on their record 14th appearance in the competition’s penultimate knockout stage.

Van Graan added: “We came here to win, but we were beaten by a better side on the day.

“Sometimes you have just got to say well done to the opposition.

“They are unbeaten in this season’s tournament and have been playing some fantastic rugby, and you have got to concede that you weren’t as good as your opposition on the day.”

Watch the Heineken Champions Cup Final live on RugbyPass throughout Asia and Australia.

Join our mailing list and get news, highlights and more every week!

Thanks for joining our mailing list.
Pitch invader held after confronting Billy Vunipola during lap of honour