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Billy Vunipola keen to move on from homophobic comment ahead of World Cup

Billy Vunipola keen to move on from homophobic comment ahead of World Cup
© Reuters
Vunipola received a reprimand from the Rugby Football Union over the remark.

Billy Vunipola has drawn a line under the homophobic comment made in April fearing that further discussion of his views could harm England's World Cup bid.

Vunipola caused a storm by posting "man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?" on his Instagram account in support of the view of Australia full-back Israel Folau that "hell awaits" for "homosexuals".

The post, which resulted in a reprimand by the Rugby Football Union, remains visible but its contents are not up for debate as the number eight attempts to head off any distractions.

— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) July 15, 2019

"We have talked about it at length, not just me, but me and the RFU and the people at Saracens," Vunipola said.

"We came to a conclusion that this issue, that people say I brought on myself, is better off left alone.

"I have made my position clear and what I don't want to do is become a distraction to the players around me.

Israel Folau File Photo
Vunipola posted the remark in support of Israel Folau (Adam Davy/PA)

"I guess, for example, if I was a boxer and it was just me that I was affecting, I would sit here and answer your question.

"But it doesn't just affect me. It is affects the coaching staff, the players, because they will be asked for their opinions on it.

"It is firmly what I put out there and it is firmly on me, but at the same time I don't want to put them under the cosh by saying this, this and this because that is unfair to them."

Despite the episode, England have opted against issuing a social media ban heading into a World Cup they are among the favourites to win.

"I definitely think social media is a positive tool to use," Saracens forward Vunipola said.

2019 Six Nations Package
Vunipola believes social media can be a positive tool (Adam Davy/PA)

"The English supporters especially enjoy seeing how we go about our day to day lives and the normal things like going for a coffee – that is probably what people are most-interested in.

"You can use social media to give an insight into what we do and hopefully boost the interest.

"It's still a positive tool and there is no restriction on it, especially from the RFU or anyone else."

Vunipola overcame the furore created by his anti-gay remark to play a central role in the later stages of Saracens' march towards a domestic and European double.

Leinster v Saracens – Champions Cup Final – St James' Park
Vunipola helped Saracens win a European and domestic double (David Davies/PA)

Much of the subsequent five-week break enforced at the end of every season was then spent in Tonga where he married his partner Simmone.

"I'm glad it's done! The wedding was awesome and I'm obviously very happy to be married to my wife," the powerful back row of Tongan heritage said.

"It was good to get home and good to get married, but for something that should be special it's pretty stressful.

"My family are very demanding in terms of all the traditional things. I've grown up my whole life in the UK, so it was tough to get my head around that."

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Alex Lozowski during Saracens training on May 10, 2019
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