Fixtures - Top Bar

England super-sub Vunipola won’t rest on his laurels


Saracens No.8 Billy Vunipola says he won’t take his starring role off the bench in the World Cup opener for granted after securing England a bonus-point 35-11 win against Fiji.

This was by no means a vintage England performance but some of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s brightest stars shone in front of an estimated 450 million viewers in the Twickenham curtain-raiser.

Harlequins full-back Mike Brown deservedly took the plaudits, scoring a try-double as England’s most potent
threat with ball in hand, while Bath Rugby talisman George Ford drilled eight points off the tee.

Replacement Owen Farrell relieved pressure from a spirited Fiji in the second half, the Saracen kicking an important penalty, but Vunipola ensured a perfect night for England with a fourth try at the death.

The bonus point could prove crucial in a so-called ‘Pool of Death’ including Australia and Wales – who England face next – and in Vunipola’s own personal battle with Gloucester Rugby’s Ben Morgan for the No.8 shirt.

But Vunipola said: “It’s more a message to the team that I’m willing to do whatever to help them, whether it’s during the week and training, not sulking – taking things on the chin and moving on.

“I’d rather be starting than not, but it’s just something I need to keep working on.

“I think sometimes it’s easier for the bench to come on because the game’s broken up and we’re a bit fresher than everyone else. A lot of credit has to go to the boys who wore them down.

“I didn’t think my try would be awarded at the time, no. I got up and they pushed the ball off the line. I was in two minds over whether I should recycle the ball or go for the line, if I missed it then it’d probably be game over.

“But someone pushed from behind and I managed to get over.”

There are several areas of concern for England coach Stuart Lancaster ahead of the meeting with Wales next Saturday – not least the set-piece.

England lost three scrums on their own put-in while Fiji were a perfect seven from seven and Vunipola has preached patience to the pack.

“(Their scrum) must have been something they worked on massively, though we prepared for that,” Vunipola added.

“Three times we got caught out with some of the decisions, but a few times we need to be more patient rather than go for the jugular straight from the off. The Fijian boys did that very well, fair play to them.

“The overarching message at half-time was be more direct, the Fijian back-line were very good at drifting off and making the hits on us. We kept passing the ball down the line rather than impacting the gain-line, I think that was the biggest thing when we (the replacements) came on – try and push the team forward rather than sidewards.”

Latest News

Worcester Warriors ‘unlucky’ in defeat to Wasps, says Ryan Bower

Worcester Warriors prop Ryan Bower admits it was important for his side to put in a performance against Wasps after their humbling Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat…

Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

In-form Henry Purdy desperate to keep improving at Gloucester Rugby

Henry Purdy is refusing to rest on his laurels and has vowed to push on hard, despite praise from all…

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Max Clark the centre of attention at Bath Rugby

Back in September – just when Bath Rugby were beginning to count on him in the centres – an ill-timed…

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Seven tries success for Exeter Braves over Bath United

Exeter Braves’ Shaun Malton and Levi Davis of Bath United became the first opponents since 2005 to both score hat-tricks…

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Worcester Warriors capture Samoa lock Chris Vui

Warriors have completed the signing of versatile Samoa forward Chris Vui till the end of the season. For everything you…

Chris Vui

Wallabies lock Will Skelton joins Saracens

Australian international forward Will Skelton has joined Saracens on a short-term deal. For everything you need to know about Saracens…

Will Skelton

Rowe hails ‘fantastic’ year for Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, heralded a “fantastic” past year – on and off the…

Exeter Chiefs celebrate

Dan Tuohy joins Bristol Rugby with immediate effect

Dan Tuohy has penned a deal with Bristol Rugby to make the switch to Aviva Premiership Rugby with immediate effect.…

Dan Tuohy

Ally Hogg, Cooper Vuna, Aaron Morris, Lachlan Turner, Bryce Heem and Dan Robson head the Opta Rugby Rankings

Attacks dominated as Newcastle Falcons claimed a dramatic win over Harlequins this weekend in Premiership Rugby but Ally Hogg starred…


Premiership Rugby backs Newcastle’s bid for 2018 European Rugby Cup Finals

Premiership Rugby today confirmed its “100% support” for Newcastle’s bid to become host city for European club rugby union's showpiece…

Newcastle Falcons celebrate

Newcastle launches bid for 2018 European Rugby Cup finals

Newcastle is bidding to become the host city for European club rugby union's showpiece weekend in May 2018. The aim…

Newcastle Falcons celebrate

Aviva Premiership Rugby wrap: Round 10

Maro Itoje could not mark his return to a Saracens jersey with a victory – but his director of rugby…

BATH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  Maro Itoje of  Saracens is tackled by Max Lahiff of Bath during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at the Recreation Ground on December 3, 2016 in Bath, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Pat Lam confirmed as Bristol Rugby head coach

Bristol Rugby is delighted to announce the appointment of Pat Lam as the Club’s new Head Coach. The 48 year-old…

Pat Lam

Newcastle Falcons v Saracens kick-off time change

Premiership Rugby can confirm that the kick-off time for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Round 17 Newcastle Falcons v Saracens fixture…

Aviva Premiership ball