Billy Vunipola: England number eight given formal warning by RFU

The 26-year-old number eight liked the post by Folau and called for people to “live their lives how God intended”.

Billy Vunipola, who has also been warned by his club Saracens, has been “reminded of his responsibilities” by the RFU.

During a meeting, the RFU said Vunipola had “expressed genuine regret”.

“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,” the RFU said in a statement.

“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.

“He has been reminded of his responsibilities as an England player and as an ambassador for the game, which values inclusivity and respect.”

Vunipola released his own statement on Monday saying he had not intended to “cause suffering”.

“I can see that my recent post has hurt people,” said the Sarries forward. “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. Anyone who knows me, knows I live with kindness and love towards ALL people.”

Folau’s contract was terminated by Rugby Australia because of a “high-level breach” of his code of conduct.

Vunipola is set to feature for Saracens in their European Champions Cup semi-final against Munster on Saturday as the English champions aim to reach a fourth final in six years.

Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall said the controversy has been “a distraction”, and is “thankful the club and RFU have acted quickly”.

“He’s obviously had a challenging few days,” McCall told BBC Sport.

“As a team we see the matter as having been dealt with and we want to talk about the rugby and concentrate on the rugby.”

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