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Saracens and Vunipola issue statement

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Saracens and Billy Vunipola issue separate statements in wake of homophobia controversy

Billy Vunipola and Saracens have issued two separate statements in the wake of the fallout over the Number 8’s support of Israel Folau’s recent homophobic Instagram post.

Vunipola has been officially warned by the club.

The statement from the club reads:

“Senior representatives of the Club yesterday held lengthy discussions with Billy Vunipola regarding his recent social media activity.

“At Saracens, we are one family, open to all with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility. We recognise the complexity of different belief systems and understand Billy’s intention was to express the word of God rather than cause offence.

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“However, he made a serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion, which is inconsistent with the values of the Club and contravenes his contractual obligations. The player has been formally warned about his future conduct.”

Vunipola’s statement reads:

“I can see that my recent post has hurt people.  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.”

Elsewhere, a spokesperson for the Evangelical Alliance – Peter Lynas – has offered his support for Vunipola.

“Billy Vunipola has expressed the view of evangelical Christians on marriage and quoted the Bible in the process,” Lynas told Press Association Sport.

“He made clear in his post that he was far from perfect himself and doesn’t hate anyone. For this he is now being condemned and threatened with disciplinary action.

“Is he being disciplined for quoting scripture? For holding orthodox Christian beliefs or just for expressing them? Do rugby players have freedom of religion or is this another faith-free zone?

“As rugby celebrates diversity and inclusion, does this allow for orthodox Christian beliefs, or is that the one view you must not have?”

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Saracens and Billy Vunipola issue separate statements in wake of homophobia controversy