'He made a serious error of judgement' - Saracens formally warn Billy Vunipola over liking homophobic slur on social media
Saracens have said that Billy Vunipola made "a serious error of judgement" by defending a homophobic Instagram post by Israel Folau and he has been formally warned about his future conduct.
The England forward posted a message on Instagram on Friday that includes the line "Man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?".
Vunipola was acting in support of Australia full-back and fellow devout Christian Folau, who stated on social media that "hell awaits" for "homosexuals".
Saracens - who held "lengthy discussions" on Sunday with the number eight - said in a statement: "At Saracens, we are one family, open to all with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility.
"We recognise the complexity of different belief systems and understand Billy's intention was to express the word of God rather than cause offence.
"However, he made a serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion, which is inconsistent with the values of the club and contravenes his contractual obligations. The player has been formally warned about his future conduct."
Vunipola insisted that his "intention was never to cause suffering" but stopped short of offering an apology in a statement on Saracens' website.
He said: "I can see that my recent post has hurt people. My intention was never to cause suffering. My intention was to express my belief in the word of God.
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"These beliefs are a source of great strength, comfort and guidance in my life. This is deeply personal and does not represent the views of my team.
"Anyone who knows me, knows I live with kindness and love towards ALL people.
"I have faith. My Christian faith has sustained me through the ups and many downs of my life. God has given and continues to give me many reasons in life to be grateful."