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Vunipola: 'This is what I chose, the life I signed I up for'

By Ian Cameron
Billy Vunipola of England looks on prior to the Autumn International match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on November 26, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Saracens No.8 Billy Vunipola has opened up about his attitude to the potential risks posed by concussion as a professional rugby union player.

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The subject of concussion and head injuries in rugby are an ongoing and heated debate for the sport, but the big back row is comfortable with the level of risk he has assumed by playing the game.

Vunipola, who left out of England head coach Steve Borthwick’s first Guinness Six Nations squad last week, spoke speaking to former teammate Jim Hamilton on The Big Jim Show podcast.

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“No [I’m not worried]. This is the life I chose,” said Vunipola. “And this is my mindset, me personally. I’ve got a kid now, I understand that risk.

“My parents sacrificed to come over to England, a country that is very foreign to them, a different language, giving me an opportunity to grow up in such a privileged country. That is my role for my son and if that means something might happen… I just can’t live my life thinking like that.

“I’ve got to be present in the now. Whatever happens in the future and I don’t want to regret anything I say now in the future, in terms of, you know, ‘Yeah, I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me’ but this is the life I chose, what I signed up for.

“I would love to be the healthiest person in the world but that’s just the way it is. You’ve just got to accept it. That’s all I can say about myself.

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“You forget to be present in the moment and enjoy it. If I do worry about the future that would happen to me.”

The subject has been front and centre once against as the RFU revealed that they are lowering the height of the tackle to the waist for amateur rugby in England from July onwards in a bid to reduce to head to head contacts.

“To get bogged down by people telling me that little head knocks here and there will affect you. I’d love some of the people to tell me what has happened to me, if it ever happened to them.

“I’ve been knocked out I don’t know how many times. Won’t be that much. Maybe three or four. I never got up thinking who’s fault was that?

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“I play this game and I know it’s dangerous, but I do enjoy it.”

You can listen to The Big Jim Show podcast in full here. 

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