Vunipola vanquished: England star cops hefty ban after being sent off for dangerous tackle


Mako Vunipola has received a four-match ban after being sent off against in a Premiership match – but England have been left relieved that he’ll be able to play in the Six Nations opener against Italy.

Vunipola was dismissed for Saracens against Newcastle during the closing stages of Saturday’s encounter following his dangerous tackle on Newcastle hooker Bryan Byrne. 

He will now miss Saracens’ Premiership appointments with Leicester and Exeter, plus European Champions Cup games against Bordeaux-Begles and Lyon. 

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But he’ll be available for England’s visit to Rome on February 3 if head coach Steve Borthwick decides to recall him which seems highly likely given current injuries to their three World Cup squad loosehead props Ellis Genge, Joe Marler and Bevan Rodd. 

Another loosehead contender Val Rapava-Ruskin is also on the sidelines.

Harlequins are awaiting a full medical verdict on Marler, who went off during their Premiership victory over Gloucester at Twickenham on Saturday.

On 88 times-capped Marler, Billy Millard, Harlequins’ Australian director of rugby, said: “God love him, he battled on for a long time, but we have got specialists looking at him as we speak. 

“Fingers crossed, it is only a short-term injury. Joe is Joe. He is big for us in so many ways. Hopefully, it is not a long one for him.”

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