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13th Apr 2019

Ian Madigan sinks Saracens as Bristol play special song for Billy Vunipola

Patrick McCarry

Billy Vunipola

Bristol are now closer to Harlequins in fourth than they are the relegation spots.

Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears did what Munster will be aiming to do at the Ricoh Arena, next weekend, and beat Saracen.

Former Leinster outhalf Ian Madigan proved the late hero for Bristol in a game that drew a lot of focus when Billy Vunipola was named in the Sarries team.

On Wednesday, Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau posted an image on Instagram that contained the following:

‘Warning. Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators. Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves’.

Saracens and England No.8 Billy Vunipola liked the post and revealed that he had received phone calls from people urging him to reverse that action. Vunipola tried to explain that Folau was seeking those he addressed to live their lives ‘closer to how God intended them to be’.

View this post on Instagram

So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

A post shared by Billy Vunipola (@vunipola_billy) on

The RFU has stated they intended to discuss Vunipola’s social media activity with the player but Bristol fans were not waiting to mete out their ow form of justice.

The ‘like’ and Vunipola’s own post have both remained and fans of Bristol booed the Saracens back-row throughout their Premiership clash. The Bristol Bears’ PA system also got in on the act, playing the anthemic ‘It’s Raining Men’ at full-time:

As for the match, Saracens went 7-0 ahead after 10 minutes but Bristol soon roared back into the match and led 13-7 after 50 minutes. A converted try for Marcelo Bosch edged Sarries ahead again, before Daniel Thomas (Bristol) and Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens) traded tries.

Saracens brought Vunipola, who had been heckled during his warm-up, came on for the last 30 minutes before Bristol brought on George Smith, Madigan, Harry Randall and, in the latter stages, Jake Heenan.

Bristol pressed and pressed in the final minutes and Madigan rewarded that drive when he slotted over an added-time penalty to make it 23-21.

After the game, Pat Lam was asked for his take on the Vunipola and Folau controversies. He replied:

“The number one thing I know with my faith, I am not here to judge anybody on what they do. It is about what I do. I am not going to judge anyone on what they do. It is about my relationship with god. I will only judge people as rugby players.”

Well said.