April 16, 2019 / 9:40 AM / 6 months ago

REFILE-Rugby-RFU hands Vunipola warning for "liking" Folau's discriminatory post

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April 16 (Reuters) - The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have issued England number eight Billy Vunipola a formal warning after he “liked” condemnatory comments about gay people and others by Australia fullback Israel Folau on social media.

Vunipola was among thousands of Instagram users who “liked” the post by Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, saying “sinners” including drunks, atheists and gay people were going to “hell” if they did not repent.

Vunipola, 26, had said he was remorseful and that it was not his intention to “cause suffering”.

“Following a meeting between the RFU and Billy Vunipola, the Saracens forward has been issued with a formal warning under RFU rule 5.12 for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or the game,” the RFU said in a statement.

“The warning will be retained on his disciplinary record for a period of five years and may be taken into account in future disciplinary proceedings.

“During the meeting the player expressed genuine regret at his public comments and understood that he had caused hurt and offence as a result of his actions.”

Vunipola is a key member of Eddie Jones’ England squad that is set to take part in this year’s World Cup which begins on Sept. 20 in Japan. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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