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19th Aug 2023

Billy Vunipola’s World Cup hopes in doubt after red card shot on Andrew Porter

Patrick McCarry

Billy Vunipola

The Saracens forward was initially sin-binned but it was upgraded to a red.

Billy Vunipola could be joining England captain Owen Farrell in missing World Cup games after he was sent off against Ireland.

Vunipola was yellow-carded for a shoulder to the head of ball carrier Andrew Porter. However, the decision was referred to the TMO bunker and upgraded from yellow to red, meaning England were reduced to 14 men.

Billy Vunipola will be cited for red card

There will now be a midweek citing review for Billy Vunipola after that red card against Ireland.

On Tuesday, Owen Farrell will face an appeal panel after his upgraded red card, against Wales, was rescinded. Both men could face bans that would bleed into the World Cup, which starts on September 7.

“I’m not going to comment on the incident specifically as it goes into a disciplinary process this week,” England head coach Steve Borthwick told reporters.

“We’re playing the number one side in the world at their home stadium. You certainly don’t want to go down to 14 men… hopefully we’ll find a conclusion on both matters this week. When that happens, we’ll know then and deal with the facts then.”

England captain Courtney Lawes said his side ‘have to be better at controlling’ key passages of the game, and have proved they can ‘hang with the best’. “We won’t give up,” he added. “We will relentlessly pursue the betterment of our side.”

“When you go to 14 men against Ireland, it becomes very, very difficult,” Borthwick added. “I’m disappointed, as every England fan would be, with the result but we never stopped fighting… it was a tight battle for a very long period of time.”

Borthwick said he briefly spoke to Billy Vunipola after the game and said the player was ‘very disappointed’ with the red card call. He also told reporters that he had not looked back on the Vunipola tackle after the game finished.

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