Mako Vunipola has praised his brother Billy’s self-control after he was booed throughout Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup victory over Munster and then confronted by a spectator.
Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby condemned the post-match incident which saw Saracens and England star Billy Vunipola approached by a man wearing a Munster shirt, who gestured at him with his fingers as Vunipola joined team-mates on a lap of honour.
The number eight scored a late clinching try and was named man-of-the-match as twice Champions Cup winners Saracens reached their third European final in four seasons.
Big Billy crashes over for @Saracens 👊April 20, 2019
But he was booed most times he touched the ball at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, where Munster fans heavily outnumbered Saracens supporters among a 16,000 semi-final crowd.
Vunipola received formal warnings from his club and Rugby Football Union in the past week after he posted on social media that “man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?”
He also liked a social media post from controversial Australian player Israel Folau that stated “hell awaits” for homosexuals.
NEWS | Billy Vunipola has been issued with a formal warning and has been reminded of his responsibilities as an England player.April 16, 2019
EPCR described post-match events as “regrettable,” and while Saracens and England prop Mako did not see the incident, he said: “I heard the crowd jeering him.
“It is one of those things that happens. You deal with it and move on. He did well not to respond, so fair play to him.
“As a brother you look out for each other but he is a big boy who can take care of himself.
“We are all humans and we all have emotions. The club dealt with it (Vunipola social media) at the start of the week, and we went out there and I thought that performance showed who we are as a team.
“He (Billy Vunipola) just went out there and did his bit for the team. He showed how much he cares for the players around him.”
Vunipola’s back-row colleague Jackson Wray added: “We are there for him, he is a team-mate, we are tight for him and anything that happens outside makes us tighter.
“He had a great game. Yes, he got booed and everything with it, but everything like that we try and use for our energy within.
“When he gets out there he just plays his game, and we are there to support him in that. I thought we did that well.”
Saracens rugby director Mark McCall, meanwhile, praised his players after they passed a stern semi-final test with flying colours and made it eight games unbeaten in this season’s competition.
“I can remember losing semi-finals in 2013 and 2015,” he said.
“This group has been through quite a lot together, and some of it has been difficult and some of it has been painful.
“I suppose the mark of a tight group is that you support your team-mates through the good times and the bad times and through the difficult times. That is what I have witnessed this week.
“We all don’t get things right all the time, and people make mistakes all of the time and we don’t discard them, all of a sudden, because of that.
“We stick by the people that we have grown with over a very long period of time, and I think that’s the hallmark of a good team. It (reaching the final) is an easy thing to say and a more difficult thing to do.
“We knew (the semi-final) would take a long time to win – these kind of games do – and we talked all week about being persistent and being patient, and we were. We got what we deserved.”
- Press Association