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

Match Report: Harlequins 18 Leicester Tigers 27

Leicester Tigers’ impressive second-half comeback saw them score 24 unanswered points and stun hosts Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop to claim…

Myler still dreaming of top four with Northampton Saints

He has been the cornerstone of Northampton’s back-line for more than a decade and fly-half Stephen Myler insists he will…

Stephen Myler

Joseph returns for derby clash against Bristol Rugby

Jonathan Joseph will return to the Bath Rugby starting line-up for the Aviva Premiership clash with West Country rivals Bristol…

Chiefs side to face Newcastle Falcons

Rob Baxter may be wary of the threat Newcastle Falcons pose to his Exeter side, but insists its challenges such…


Wasps team to play Gloucester at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday

Director of Rugby Dai Young has named the Wasps’ side to take on Gloucester at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday,…

Le Roux Wasps

Sale Sharks Team News

Sale Sharks have named their side to take on Saracens in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday (kick off 2.45pm)  at…

Josh Charnley

Newcastle Falcons team to face Exeter Chiefs

Newcastle Falcons have made three changes ahead of Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Exeter Chiefs (kick-off 3pm). Chris Harris replaces…

Evan Olmstead

Gloucester Rugby make two changes for Sunday’s trip to Wasps

Gloucester Rugby keep faith with the majority of the side that started against Saracens last weekend, making just two changes…

Lewis Ludlow

Bristol Rugby team to face Bath Rugby

Bristol Rugby play host to Bath Rugby in the much-anticipated West Country derby on Sunday (1pm KO). Mark Tainton’s men…

Gavin Henson

Saracens name team for Sale clash

Saracens have named their team to face Sale Sharks in Saturday’s round 16 Aviva Premiership clash at Allianz Park, kick-off…

Joel Conlon

Annett and Dowson return for Saints test

Niall Annett and Phil Dowson are among three changes to the Warriors starting line-up for their trip to Franklin’s Gardens…

Phil Dowson

Northampton Saints team news versus Worcester

The Northampton Saints team has been named for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership Round 16 home match against Worcester. The Saints head…

Michael Paterson

RFU Disciplinary: Francois Louw

An appeal against the sanction imposed on Francois Louw of Bath Rugby was heard by an RFU Disciplinary appeal panel…

AUDIO: Preview of this weekend’s Six Nations and Aviva Premiership action

It's the third round of matches in the Six Nations Championship this weekend, while action also continues in the Aviva…

Twickenham Stoop

England team to face Italy at Twickenham

Eddie Jones has named his side for England’s RBS 6 Nations game against Italy at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday (kick-off…

Saints eleven pen new deals

Northampton Saints has today announced new deals with 11 members of the current squad. Three of the more experienced players,…

Luther Burrell

Symons wants Gloucester Rugby to kick-on against Wasps

Just three points separates Gloucester Rugby and sixth-placed Harlequins and centre Andy Symons is determined to see the Cherry &…

Bath Rugby surpass 40,000 ticket sales for The Clash

Bath Rugby is thrilled to confirm that over 40,000 tickets have been sold for The Clash, when they will take…

Bath Rugby

Evans determined for a Harlequins top-six finish

Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans is determined to drive Harlequins to a top-six finish as the Aviva Premiership Rugby season reaches…