An England rugby player has been formally warned about his future in club side Saracens after defending an anti-gay social media post.
Billy Vunipola held “lengthy discussions” with senior representatives from the top-flight team about his support for Australia rugby star Israel Folau.
Folau looks likely to have his contract terminated for posting a message on his Instagram saying hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters”.
Israel Folau's Instagram post said 'hell awaits' homosexuals
Vunipola liked the post and wrote in a comment that “I don’t hate anyone”, adding: “He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?”
Saracens condemned their number eight for a “serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion which is inconsistent with the values of the club and contravenes his contractual obligations”.
In a statement on the club’s website, Vunipola insisted his “intention was never to cause suffering”.
But he stopped short of offering an apology.
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“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.”
Israel Folau looks set to have his contract terminated over his post
The Rugby Football Union, the governing body of the English game, plans to talk to Vunipola about his comments.
Vunipola will be a key member of the England squad heading to Japan for the Rugby World Cup starting September.