Opposition supporters have relentlessly booed a player for England’s national team after he took to the pitch for the first time since supporting homophobic sentiments by Australian player Israel Folau.
Billy Vunipola took to the pitch on Saturday to play with his side, Sacarens, against the Bristol Bears. But every time he got near the ball, Bristol supporters booed him.
Australian national player, Folau, is facing the end of his career for taking to social media again to condemn ‘homosexuals’. His latest Instagram post claimed ‘hell awaits’ homosexuals. On Twitter Folau said people should turn away from ‘evil ways’ after Tasmania passed new gender laws.
His comments have earned him international condemnation with Rugby Australia and Rugby New South Wales terminating his multi-million dollar contract.
But Vunipola took to Instagram to back Folau, first he liked the Australian’s post and then followed it with his own explanation.
‘So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it,’ he wrote on Instagram.
‘I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect… Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?’
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So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t 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. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
A post shared by Billy Vunipola (@vunipola_billy) on
Booed and dumped
Vunipola’s comments earned him the hostile reaction in Bristol over the weekend.
The Bristol Bears had tweeted their support for the LGBTI community ahead of the game. They also played It’s Raining Men at full-time.
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) April 13, 2019
Vunipola’s support of Folau also cost him a lucrative media role at Channel 4 in the UK. Rugby England and Sacarens both said they would be speaking to Vunipola.
‘These views are incompatible with our values as an inclusive broadcaster and in light of this Billy Vunipola won’t be used as a contributor in Channel 4’s rugby coverage,’ said a Channel 4 spokesperson.
A Sacarens spokesperson said: ‘We recognise that people have different belief systems and we expect everyone to be treated equally with respect and humility.
‘Billy Vunipola’s recent social media posts are inconsistent with this and we take this matter very seriously. It will be handled internally.’
LGBTI rugby players and commentators speak out
The Kings Cross Steelers, the world’s first gay rugby club said they felt ‘encouraged’ how quickly the Sacarnes and Rugby England responded.
‘We were founded 24 years ago and now sit as one of 76 clubs within the International Gay Rugby (IGR) body representing gay and inclusive clubs,’ said Matt Webb, chairman of the Kings Cross Steeler.
‘We play and live by the five core values of the RFU and ask all those who love the sport as we do to do the same. It is important that a zero-tolerance approach is taken as homophobia and discrimination in any form have no place in our sport or society.’
‘I’ve had enough of God-fearing athletes telling me I need to repent for my sins’
Rugby commentator Nick Heath shared a passionate video about why the posts hurt him.
‘They’re saying that being gay is a sin that you should repent for,’ he said in the video on Twitter which has had more than 10,000 views.
‘There are people hanging themselves all over the world… because they don’t feel loved or that society will accept them.
‘That is going to cause harm to hundreds of thousands, millions of people and if you can’t see that then I don’t even know where to start. By promote this image you’re just permeating that sort of misery and I don’t know what kind of person that makes you.’
As a gay rugby commentator, I’ve had enough of God-fearing athletes telling me I need to repent for my sins. 🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/vindiAUdBF
— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) April 12, 2019