"Billy Vunipola lucky just to get a slap on the wrist" - Brian O'Driscoll


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Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

17.48 18 Apr 2019


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Brian O'Driscoll feels Billy Vunipola is "lucky to just get a slap on the wrist" for his recent social media remarks.

The English RFU issued a warning to the England international over comments he made backing Australia's Israel Folau.

Rugby Australia sacked Folau for incendiary remarks on his Instagram account in which he wrote: "Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators - Hell awaits you."

He had already elicited condemnation for previous anti-LGBT comments in 2018 but avoided a sanction at the time.

Meanwhile, Vunipola weighed in on the matter, defending Folau.

The RFU formerly warned Vunipola as to his future conduct.

Ireland and Leinster legend O'Driscoll joined Nathan Murphy on Thursday and discussed the matter.

"It's a fine line between free speech and having your comments being perceived as dangerous. And that's what they are to be honest with you," he said.

"Awful Comments"

"These sort of comments are certainly not going to help young kids who are questioning or uncertain of their sexuality and wanting to have that freedom to come out into a society that accepts them, when you have big name internationals like this, like Israel Folau, like Billy Vunipola talking negatively about it, it's only going to make their situation exacerbate itself and create more stress for those indivudals.

"So I think we can't condone that in any shape or form. And as a result, I think Rugby Australia have responded well [regarding Folau].

"[Vunipola's remarks] are awful comments too as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't match up with the values of the game of rugby. We're an inclusive game. It's a game for everyone. When someone counters that, they bring into question the morals of what our game is."

Billy VunipolaBilly Vunipola

And on Vunipola, he added: "I think Billy Vunipola is very, very lucky just to get a slap on the wrist".

BOD also gave his take on the impact on Australia of Folau's potential 2019 Rugby World Cup absence.

Obstacle to hurdle

"It's a huge blow. He's a game-breaker and he's shown it time and time again that he can do some magical stuff," he said.

"He's a guy that's able to play three codes and that says it all. Australia are in a position at the moment that they need their best players.

"They're going through a real lull by their standards. But yet, you look at what Michael Cheika was able to do in an 18-month period back in 2014 into 2015, getting them to a World Cup final.

"I know the person that [Cheika] is. He'll see this as a challenge and he'll take it head on. If he does lose his best player, it'll be another obstacle to hurdle to get to the summit."

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