Billy Vunipola

Saracens react to latest England snub for Billy and Mako Vunipola

Long-time selection favourites of Jones since he became England boss in 2016, the Vunipola brothers fell out of favour for the recent Autumn Nations Series and that exclusion continued with last Tuesday’s latest 36-strong squad announcement.

The Vunipolas originally reacted to their Test level omission by playing well over the winter and also signing new deals at Saracens that will keep them available for England selection through to the 2023 World Cup in France.

Billy and Mako Vunipola to stay at Saracens

The pair – who have fallen out of England contention this year – had been linked with lucrative deals in France, with Lyon tipped as one possible destination.

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said of the signing: “Everyone involved with Saracens will be thrilled that Mako and Billy have chosen to extend their time at the club. In their own unique ways, they have been instrumental in how we have grown and progressed and have been key figures in the success the club has enjoyed.

Sale's Manu Tuilagi has changed tack, taking a knee a week after he remained standing at Harlequins

Following a week where there was much commentary about how Sale and their large contingent of South African players had lined up prior to their loss at Harlequins, the matter even being raised by politicians in South Africa, Tuilagi was one of five Sharks players who took a knee at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The Sale South African contingent, which included recent World Cup winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager, remained standing but they did wear Rugby Against Racism t-shirts their kneeling colleagues also had on.  

Haskell distances himself from Billy Vunipola's views on religion

Appearing as a guest on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby which Haskell presents along with Mike Tindall and Alex Payne, Vunipola was asked about the infamous Israel Folau saga, extreme religion and homophobic views that resulted in the termination of his Rugby Australia contract in 2019. 

The Saracens back row said he “wouldn’t go about it the same way”, saying “it’d be more of a conversation” if it were to happen again and that he would “talk to whoever had any questions”. 

Vunipola taking tips from auntie

England meet South Africa in the final in Yokohama this weekend after producing a stunning display to beat reigning champions New Zealand 19-7.

Eddie Jones' side are favourites to prevail in a match against opponents who narrowly edged out Wales in their semi-final, favouring a kicking game that is in stark contrast to England's free-flowing style.

Vunipola has been a key part of that approach but, despite being on the brink of glory in Japan, he is still getting tips from the family who have travelled to support him and his brother, Mako.

Billy Vunipola facing decisive moment for quarterfinal availability

Vunipola is rated “very likely” to be available for the Oita Stadium showdown on Saturday as he recovers from the ankle injury sustained against Argentina.

England will be desperate to field their bulldozing number eight as they bid to complete a seventh successive victory over Australia under Eddie Jones but only have one full practice session left before the team is announced.

Vunipola was rated doubtful for the last-eight clash but on Tuesday completed running, cycling, wrestling and boxing drills as his recovery took another significant step forward.

England appear to get Vunipola boost

In a major lift to Eddie Jones’ men, the powerful Saracens No8 is on course to recover from the ankle injury that forced him off at half-time against Argentina last Saturday week.

Jones names his team to face the Wallabies on Thursday and Vunipola, the only player to have started all 12 of England’s Tests this year, will be an automatic selection if fit.

“Billy is progressing really well,” defence coach John Mitchell said. “He has trained again today and we are very confident in his progression each day. He’s very likely (to be available).

England wait on Billy Vunipola ankle injury update ahead of 'Le Crunch'

Vunipola failed to appear for the second-half of the 39-10 victory over Argentina on Saturday that guaranteed their presence in the quarter-finals with the Pool C finale at International Stadium Yokohama still to play.

The marauding Saracens number eight is the only player to have started all 12 of England’s games this year and the overwhelming priority will be to ensure he is fit for the last eight.

“Billy has had a scan and we will have a clearer picture tomorrow (Tuesday),” scrum coach Neal Hatley said.

Billy Vunipola is unbowed after facing the music in Tonga’s hit parade

In the local paper’s front page wrap of Saturday’s match here the Hokkaido Shimbun was pleased to report to its readers that everything had gone off smoothly at the Sapporo Dome, with the exception of a single subway train to the ground, which had run precisely three minutes late. The express that hit Billy Vunipola during Sunday’s game, on the other hand, arrived right on time. It was called Zane Kapeli and it caught him flush in the chest just as he was breaking into a sprint upfield off the back of a lineout.

'Everything in Tonga is probably the same as it was in 1888... that is the way we love it'

Vunipola will start Sunday’s Japan 2019 opener at No8 as the nations clash in only the third instalment of a narrative that began when Billy’s father and uncle ran out at Twickenham.

Fe’ao and Elisi were on the wrong end of a 101-10 hiding that day, but the occasion left a lasting impression on a wide-eyed six-year-old who was born in Australia but had spent long spells in Tonga.