Billy Vunipola

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.

'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.

England fans exasperated by Vunipola's status as the only player to start all four warm-up games

 The England coaching team have defended their over-reliance on Vunipola, saying the No8 needs to play regularly as he gets better with every game despite fears from fans of fatigue and injury. 

The Saracens star has had his fair share of injury troubles over the past couple of seasons, particularly with his knees and breaking an arm on multiple occasions. 

With England’s World Cup campaign starting less than three weeks, England fans on social media cannot understand why he is still being played. 

Vunipola out to create a legacy

England were humbled on home soil in 2015, finishing third in Pool A, with Wales and eventual runners-up Australia securing progression to the knockout stages.

On Monday, Vunipola was included in Eddie Jones' 31-man squad for the upcoming tournament having starred in Sunday's 33-19 defeat of Six Nations champions Wales.

Despite their disappointment in 2015, Jones' side will be favourites to progress from Pool C, with France, Argentina, United States and Tonga their opponents, and Vunipola does not believe England's failure in the last World Cup will haunt them in Japan.

Saracens hopeful over Vunipola

The powerful back-row forward returned from a fractured forearm suffered in January to feature in the 51-14 victory over London Irish on Sunday.

There were fears the 25-year-old had swiftly fallen victim to yet another fitness setback after he experienced an issue on Wednesday.

And while Vunipola is indeed set to miss Saturday's regular-season Premiership finale against Gloucester, Saracens' director of rugby McCall claimed his star should be back for the team's subsequent last-four showdown against Newcastle Falcons or Wasps.