Public Health England has criticised England’s decision to stand Mako Vunipola down from Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Wales as a precautionary measure against coronavirus.


Vunipola was initially named in Eddie Jones’ training squad for the Twickenham showdown but was withdrawn once Rugby Football Union medics learned he had travelled back from Tonga last weekend via Hong Kong where there has been a significant outbreak of coronavirus.

The Lions prop was visiting the Pacific island along with his younger brother Billy for personal reasons. Although asymptomatic, England’s medical team felt the 24/7 camp environment of their Surrey training base required an extra safeguard and so removed him from the squad.

In a twist, Vunipola began training with his club Saracens on Tuesday and has now been selected to start Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership clash with Leicester. “PHE current guidance on coronavirus is clear on when self-isolation is necessary,” a PHE tweet said.

“Earlier this week the RFU asked a player, having returned from travel overseas, to not attend the camp to avoid the risk of spread, which was not necessary as he was not displaying any symptoms. The RFU accept this and this clarification.”

England are satisfied they have made the right decision, stating they have followed the advice of their medics. “A player was not kept in the England camp as part of a highly precautionary approach due to the close proximity of players over a sustained period of time,” a PHE spokesperson said.


“The RFU followed PHE’s guidance on coronavirus and did not require the player to self-isolate as he was not displaying symptoms on his return from transit through Hong Kong.”

– Press Association 

WATCH: The confusing Mako Vunipola fallout

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