Stephen Jones blasts Munster fans for 'shocking abuse' of Billy Vunipola
The Welsh journalist was not one bit impressed with the behaviour of Munster fans at The Ricoh Arena.
On Saturday, during the Champions Cup semi final between Munster and Saracens, sections of the crowd booed and heckled Billy Vunipola.
The practice followed on from the Premiership game between Bristol and Saracens, the weekend before, when he took some heat from fans after being substituted on in the second half.
Fans were voicing their opposition to Vunipola's defence of Israel Folau's controversial social media post, earlier this month, and sharing a few strong thoughts of his own. Vunipola stated:
'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.'
Vunipola was officially warned by the RFU for his publicly stated stance but there was no sanction from his club, following a meeting between players and staff on Monday.
Saracens were deserving 32-16 winners over Munster and reached the final in Newcastle. Vunipola had a decent game, scoring a late try, and BT Sport pounced on the interview opportunity by awarding him man-of-the-match and catching him for a few words.
Following the game, after copping more boos from fans on a victory lap, Vunipola told BT Sport that it was never his intention 'to hurt anyone' with his comments on social media. He was confronted by an irate Munster fan, from a distance of about 10 feet, after the game and later told the BBC the experience was 'quite scary'.
In his match report, and analysis, for The Sunday Times, leading columnist Stephen Jones tore into a large batch of Munster fans that he felt had "diminished" the game by heckling Vunipola. In an article headlined 'Billy Vunipola enjoys last laugh over the boo boys', he wrote:
'Whether the shocking abuse of a great player was just the reaction of Vunipola being way too good for them or whether it was a stand against homophobia - something of which Vunipola has never been guilty - then it was distasteful.'
Here is a section of his article on the game:
— JG (@deise_prop) April 21, 2019
On Twitter, Jones went further by saying 'the sh*t behaviour was all by Munster'.
Note, no mention of Bristol fans doing the same. But even passing over the hypocrisy, this is Stephen Jones saying Vunipola did nothing wrong, in the teeth of two disciplinary findings. He is actively excusing homophobia as not being bad behaviour. pic.twitter.com/3vORMkiMsW
— Tim O'Connor (@timoconnorbl) April 21, 2019
Elsewhere in the paper, Jones gave CJ Stander 4/10 in his match ratings for the game against Saracens.
More tinder for the Munster fans' fire.