Despite reports in a number of newspapers, Billy Vunipola says his decision to not take a knee before England matches hasn’t caused any division in the camp.
Addressing the reports to Sky Sports, he said: “It’s been blown up. We’re a diverse group and we all support each others believes and respect them.
“I support them and they support me. It doesn’t matter what they think or what they believe, we’re on the same team and that’s the most important thing.
“When we’re on the pitch none of that matters.”
He has previously explained why he will not take the knee before matches..
“A similar situation happened with the Black Lives Matter movement last week when we were asked if we want to take a knee or not,” Vunipola told The Good, The Bad & The Rugby podcast.
“What I saw in terms of that movement was not aligned with what I believe in. They were burning churches and Bibles. I can’t support that.
“Even though I am a person of colour, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus.”
And the RFU has backed the players who made the choice not to take the knee.
A spokeswoman said: ‘During the Autumn Nations Cup, Twickenham Stadium is featuring messages of support for Rugby Against Racism, Black Lives Matter and the NHS.
‘England’s men’s and women’s players and match officials are given the choice on how and if they wish to make gestures to help raise awareness for diversity and inclusion before the start of each game.
‘The RFU supports any players’ decision and equally believes the plans off the England stage are as important in driving necessary improvement and change across all areas of our game.’
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9 Unexpected Pairs of Rugby Stars We Didn’t Know Were Related
1. Beno Obano & Maro Itoje
There is a picture on Beno Obano’s Instagram account of his mother, Patricia, holding him and Maro Itoje together as babies. Born three days apart, the cousins this week took part in a senior England training camp together for the first time.
2. Jerry Collins & Sinoti Sinoti
Sinoti Sinoti – a cousin of late All Blacks great Jerry Collins – scored the opening try in Newcastle’s 28-20 home win on Sunday, inspiring this list. We previously didn’t know the two were related. Collins was also a cousin to the Umaga brothers, Mike and Tana, but that is more well known.