(Reuters) - England international Billy Vunipola was among five Saracens players who have apologised for violating lockdown rules that are in place in Britain to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the English Premiership club said on Thursday.
Vunipola and team mates Alex Goode, Sean Maitland, Nick Isiekwe and Josh Ibuanokpe were pictured meeting for coffee in St Albans on Monday.
People from different households have been barred from socialising since the British government brought in lockdown measures on March 23. If they have to go out, they are also required to maintain a distance of at least two metres from people who do not live in their house.
Saracens said they have spoken to the players, who accepted they had made an error in judgement.
“The club was very disappointed to learn about a small group of players being sighted together in St Albans,” Saracens said in a statement.
“The government guidelines on social distancing ... are very clear and the club has been vigorous in its messaging to all players and staff about the importance of adhering to these guidelines.
“Management has spoken to the players involved, all of whom ... have apologised for any upset they may have caused. We are confident this will not happen again.”
England’s top flight rugby season has been suspended since March and Vunipola was among several Saracens players asked to take pay cuts during the coronavirus crisis, which has resulted in over 30,000 deaths in the United Kingdom..
Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar