Vunipola warned by Saracens over social-media post

FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, England's Billy Vunipola in during the Six Nations international rugby match against Ireland at Twickenham stadium in London. Vunipola was formally warned about his future conduct by his club side Saracens on Monday April 15, 2019, after defending an anti-gay post published by Australia rugby star Israel Folau, "My intention was to express my belief in the word of God," Vunipola said. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, FILE)

LONDON — England No. 8 Billy Vunipola was formally warned about his future conduct by his club side Saracens on Monday after defending an anti-gay post published on Instagram by Australia rugby star Israel Folau.

"He made a serious error of judgment in publicly sharing his opinion," Saracens said of Vunipola, "which is inconsistent with the values of the club and contravenes his contractual obligations."

In a statement on the club's website, Vunipola said his "intention was never to cause suffering", but he stopped short of offering an apology.

"My intention was to express my belief in the word of God," Vunipola said. "These beliefs are a source of great strength, comfort and guidance in my life. This is deeply personal and does not represent the views of my team."

Rugby Australia is terminating the contract of Folau after he ignored a previous warning about the content of his posts on social media by publishing a message on his Instagram account last week saying that hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters."

Vunipola wrote his own post , saying Folau was trying to say that "how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be."

"Man was made for woman to procreate, that was the goal, no?" Vunipola said.

The Rugby Football Union, the governing body of the English game, plans to talk to Vunipola about his comments.

Vunipola is likely to be a key member of the England squad heading to Japan for the Rugby World Cup starting September.

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