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Saracens confirm the end-of-season exits of Billy and Mako Vunipola

By Liam Heagney
Saracens' Billy and Mako Vunipola with their cousin Taulupe Faletau at Bath (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Title-chasing Saracens have officially confirmed that brothers Billy and Mako Vunipola will leave the club at the end of the 2023/24 season.

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Both the No8 and the loosehead have been linked with a switch to Montpellier in France and while the Londoners didn’t confirm the forwards will definitely be moving to the Mediterranean coast, they have rubberstamped their exit.

A statement read: “Saracens can confirm that Billy Vunipola will leave the club at the end of the season. The number eight has been one of the greatest players in the history of the club and will depart for a new challenge after a remarkable 11-year spell in North London.

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“Vunipola, who has played for Saracens on 194 occasions, has won an incredible five Premiership trophies and three European titles during his time at StoneX Stadium.

“The 31-year-old originally joined Sarries in 2013 as a 20-year-old after bursting onto the scene at Wasps and turned into a world-class player as his game went from strength to strength.

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“Becoming a household name due to his barnstorming performances, he was central to the success of Sarries. A try in the 2019 European Cup final in Newcastle against Leinster put his side en route to their third Champions Cup crown, making him a firm fan favourite at StoneX.

“On the international stage, he made the England number eight shirt his own, gaining 75 caps for his country, winning three Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam, and securing second and third in the 2019 and 2023 World Cups. During the 2016 Grand Slam winning year he was nominated for the World Rugby player of the year award.

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“Mako will also leave Saracens at the end of the season. The prop, who has been one of the leading figures in the sport for over a decade will bring down the curtain on a sparkling career at StoneX Stadium as he starts a new chapter for himself and his family.

“The 33-year-old is one of the great success stories of the incredible journey at Sarries. He joined the academy back in 2011 and after climbing the ranks he went on to win five Premiership titles and three European trophies in North London during 229 appearances.

“His extraordinary longevity at the top level of the sport is demonstrated by being selected for three consecutive British and Irish Lions Tours in 2013, 2017, and 2021, and featuring in all nine test matches during the tours of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

“For England, he gained 79 caps, won one Grand Slam, three Six Nations titles, and will go down as one of the very best props to put on the famous white shirt.”

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Billy Vunipola said: “It’s been an honour to represent the people and this great club, through the highs and lows I have enjoyed it all. I will treasure my time here for the rest of my life!”

Mako Vunipola added: “I’m grateful for everything this club has given me. I’ve grown up at this place and it will be forever in my heart. Thank you.”

Director of rugby Mark McCall said: “To watch Billy develop into a world-class number eight and a thoughtful, supportive teammate has been a privilege for us all. He has contributed enormously to the progress we have made as a club.

“On the field, his intuition and amazing skill set combined with his competitive spirit and physical attributes made him a force to be reckoned with.

“Off the field, Billy was sensitive to the needs of the group and a fantastic mentor to many younger players. We thank him for all he has done and wish him, Simone, and Judah every happiness and success on their new adventure.”

Switching to Mako, McCall added: “Few players change how their position is played. Mako’s all-around skillset, rugby intelligence, and physicality made us, as coaches, rethink what’s possible from a loosehead prop.

“Mako has achieved a phenomenal amount in the game; three Lions Tours, multiple England caps, and being central to all Saracens has created.

“A good friend and dedicated family man, Mako will forever be a part of the Saracens family and we wish him, Alex, Jacob, Joshua, and Grace the best for what is ahead.”

It was later confirmed that Manu Vunipola, the brothers’ out-half-playing cousin, was also leaving Saracens.

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