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

Northampton Saints’ Brookes prepared for sold-out East Midlands derby

Franklin’s Gardens will be sold out for the East Midlands derby between Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers and Kieran Brookes…

Impending fatherhood won’t distract centurion Francois Louw at Bath Rugby

It’s a big week for Bath Rugby’s François Louw, who will be making his 100th appearance for the side on…

AUDIO: Preview of this weekend’s Aviva Premiership action

After another 6 Nations has come and gone, the Aviva Premiership returns this weekend for the 18th round of games.…

Wasps team to play Worcester Warriors at the Ricoh Arena

Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his side to face Worcester Warriors this Sunday at the Ricoh Arena, kick…

Dan Robson

Bath Rugby’s Louw to make 100th appearance against Saracens

Francois Louw will make his 100th appearance for Bath Rugby against Saracens at Allianz Park on Sunday, kick-off 15:00. The…

Francois Louw

Exeter Chiefs side to face Sale Sharks

Ali Hepher believes Exeter Chiefs still have areas to work on as their Aviva Premiership season heads towards the final…

Ben Moon

Leicester Tigers team news for return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action

Six Nations champions Ben Youngs and Dan Cole return to the Leicester Tigers team for Saturday's Aviva Premiership derby against…

Ben Youngs

Sale Sharks Team News to face Exeter Chiefs

Sale Sharks have named their side to take on Exeter Chiefs on Saturday at Sandy Park in the Aviva Premiership…

Andrei Ostrikov

Saracens name side to face Bath Rugby

Saracens have named their side to face Bath for Sunday’s round 18 Aviva Premiership clash at Allianz Park, kick-off 15h00.…

Alex Goode

Northampton Saints team news for Leicester Tigers clash

The Northampton Saints team has been announced for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership derby against Leicester. With five rounds to play both…

Dylan Hartley

Worcester Warriors unchanged for West Midlands derby

Warriors name an unchanged starting 15 as they return to Aviva Premiership action against Wasps in the West Midlands derby…

Josh Adams

Sonatane Takulua and Newcastle Falcons set sights on double over Harlequins

Sonatane Takulua is hoping history repeats itself as Newcastle Falcons eye up an Aviva Premiership Rugby double over Harlequins. This…

13 return for Harlequins ahead of Newcastle Falcons

Harlequins has named the squad to play Newcastle Falcons in Round 18 of the Aviva Premiership at The Stoop on…

Dave Ward

Newcastle Falcons team to face Harlequins

Mark Wilson moves forward to the second row as Newcastle Falcons shuffle their pack for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to…

Mark Wilson

Semesa Rokoduguni not underestimating importance of Saracens test for Bath Rugby

Following a two-week break, the Aviva Premiership Rugby springs back into action this weekend, bringing with it a key run…

Round 18 Preview: Saracens v Bath Rugby

Jack Nowell relishing Exeter Chiefs return

Cornishman Jack Nowell says he cannot wait to pull on an Exeter Chiefs jersey again as he gears up for…

Jack Nowell

Mark Jennings Signs New Two Year Deal

Sale Sharks are delighted to announce that centre Mark Jennings has signed a new two year deal with the club.…

Mark Jennings

Team News: Bristol Rugby vs Gloucester Rugby

Sam Jeffries is set for his first Aviva Premiership start when Bristol host Gloucester in the West Country derby on…

Billy Searle

Gloucester Rugby name side for West Country derby at Bristol

Henry Trinder will make his first start in the Aviva Premiership this season as Gloucester make seven changes to their…

Henry Trinder