Exeter’s director of rugby, Rob Baxter, has reminded his players about their responsibilities on social media in the wake of controversies surrounding Israel Folau and Billy Vunipola.
Folau is set for a code of conduct hearing early next month after an Instagram post that warned “hell awaits” for “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists [and] idolaters”. If unsuccessful, the Australia full-back faces the sack.
Vunipola “liked” the post before attempting to defend Folau’s homophobic comments – based on his strong religious beliefs – by stating that “man was made for woman to procreate”. He received a warning from both Saracens and the Rugby Football Union but he has not apologised for the post, nor removed it from Instagram.
Vunipola’s post was also “liked” by a number of Premiership and England players including the Exeter back-row Dave Ewers.
“We’ve reminded the players about that,” Baxter said. “If you make a statement on social media, you’re effectively making a statement just like I’m making one today to members of the press. It’s all very well claiming it’s your own opinion and the value you have of your own opinion and how much right you have to give your own opinion, but actually if you put it out there publicly you’re making a statement about yourself.”
Vunipola has been booed in each of his past two appearances for Saracens, the second of which was the Champions Cup semi-final victory against Munster last Saturday. Soon after full-time Vunipola was approached by an angry supporter wearing a Munster jersey, prompting the Rugby Players’ Association to raise the issue of player safety with English rugby chiefs at Wednesday’s Professional Game Board meeting.
The spectator was handed a stadium ban but police said he did not commit a criminal offence and the RPA – concerned by the absence of firm action from the tournament organiser, European Professional Club Rugby – sought to take the issue up with the PGB, which also comprises representatives from the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Championship. It is also understood that discussions over doing away with promotion and relegation to and from the Premiership continued at the board meeting but that no concrete proposal has yet been put forward.
Meanwhile the Northampton director of rugby, Chris Boyd, has said “time is running out” for Dylan Hartley but he is hopeful the England hooker will take the field before the end of the season. Hartley has not played since December with a knee injury which required surgery in February. Boyd was initially optimistic Hartley would be fit to face Newcastle on Friday but has revealed he is not ready for selection.
Northampton have subsequent games against Worcester and Exeter and could still make the Premiership play-offs which would help Hartley’s cause in returning to action before England’s World Cup preparations begin. “He trained really well this morning but time’s running out for Dylan this year,” Boyd told the Northampton Chronicle. “We’re still optimistic that Dylan will be in a position to be selected at some stage between now and the end of the season.”
Sale have announced the signing of the South Africa second-row Lood de Jager on a three-year deal. The 26-year-old, who has won 38 caps, is likely to be part of their World Cup squad this year and, if so, will join Sale from the Blue Bulls after the tournament. The Sale director of rugby, Steve Diamond, said: “He is a world-class lineout operator with lots of experience at the highest level and offers a huge physical presence around the pitch. Lood’s signing is a statement of intent in our endeavour to become a force in the Premiership and Europe over the next three years.”
Source link : https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/apr/24/rob-baxter-exeter-israel-folau-billy-vunipola
Publish date : 2019-04-24 19:02:00