England’s number eight Billy Vunipola was booed as Saracens suffered a 23-21 defeat at Bristol after he defended fellow Christian rugby player Israel Folau’s comments about sin, hell and repentance. Vunipola ‘liked’ Folau’s post on Instagram and then wrote a detailed response about why. Australian player Folau posted on Instagram last week a picture that read: ‘Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, hell awaits you! Repent, only Jesus saves’. Folau added as his caption: “Those living in sin will end up in hell unless you repent. Jesus loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
Refusing to unlike the post, Vunipola wrote: “There comes a point when you have to stand up for what you believe in. Israel isn’t saying that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. “I’m not perfect. I’ve been at least everything on that list at least once in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Tongan-born player was not given a warm reception by the Ashton Gate crowd at his most recent match. He was booed every time he touched the ball.
Vunipola’s Instagram posts are now the subject of a Rugby Football Union investigation and are also being looked into by the club. Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said of Vunipola’s mindset going into the match: “He is a human being and he is also keen to do well for his team-mates. He is a great club man. But he is a human being and I am sure there is stuff going on in his head. The club have made a clear statement and we have not sat down with him yet. I will talk to him myself. “The decision to play him from the bench was made before what happened, happened.” McCall said of the booing during the game: “It was unexpected but my opinion is not relevant.”
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