England dealt blow as Saracens star Billy Vunipola ruled out of Six Nations

08:01 25 February 2014

Billy Vunipola of England recieves treatment during the RBS Six Nations win against Ireland. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Billy Vunipola of England recieves treatment during the RBS Six Nations win against Ireland. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

2014 Getty Images

England No.8 Billy Vunipola has been ruled out of the remainder of the RBS 6 Nations with an ankle injury.

Vunipola limped off in the second half of Saturday’s 13-10 victory over Ireland and will now miss the final two games against Wales and Italy.

“It’s a blow as Billy has had a good Six Nations but he is young and will be back,” head coach Stuart Lancaster said.

Vunipola sprained his right ankle at Twickenham and a scan on Monday afternoon revealed the extent of the ligament damage.

It is not known how much more of the season the Saracens back row will miss.

Ben Morgan replaced Vunipola against Ireland and will be promoted to the starting line-up for the visit of Wales on Sunday week.

Either Tom Johnson or Matt Kvesic will take Morgan’s place on the bench.

“The encouraging thing is that we have Ben Morgan and other back rows such as Matt Kvesic and Tom Johnson who are all competing hard for places,” Lancaster said.

Joe Launchbury’s remarkable display of endurance in Saturday’s victory over Ireland was among the highlights of a potentially defining Red Rose performance under Lancaster.

When the final whistle sounded after 80 minutes of compelling and nerve-shredding action, the spent Wasps lock could only place hands on knees and bury his head in the chest of team-mate Henry Thomas.

Launchbury’s tank-emptying shift typified the commitment of an England pack that he declares will run themselves into the ground to break the will of their opponents.

“The key is that in every international you try to get yourself into that place of exhaustion. That’s what enables us to win games,” Launchbury said.

“We pride ourselves on being a pack who can play this all-court game and can run around and take teams to dark places.

“That’s what we tried to do against Ireland and obviously it’s hard work on ourselves, but hopefully you see the impact it makes on the opposition as well.”

Launchbury was a repeated thorn in Ireland’s side at the breakdown and made 15 tackles - the second highest in both teams and only one behind Chris Robshaw.

It was the closing moments that produced his finest achievement, clipping the ankle of Dave Kearney with an outstretched arm as the Ireland wing threatened a repeat of the late agony endured against France three weeks ago.

“Not at all was I sure I was going to make it. I was probably a bit out of position,” said Launchbury, who was switched to blindside flanker in the 70th minute to accommodate replacement lock Dave Attwood.

“I’ve tried to chase down wingers in the past but I’m pretty sure that’s the first tap-tackle I’ve ever tried.

“My head was down on the turf, face down. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever managed to get the guy down.”

Related articles


Latest Sport Stories

Thu, 12:21
Arsenal Ladies' Jordan Nobbs battles with Kathleen Radtke of Manchester City Women (right) during the Gunners' 1-0 win in the Continental Cup

Midfielder Jordan Nobbs is determined to finish her frustrating season on a high by helping the Gunners to regain the Continental Cup.

Thu, 11:00
The Camden Swiss Cottage squad

Camden Swiss Cottage’s young swimmers competed in their first Southern Junior Inter League Final on Sunday – and they finished fifth to narrowly miss out on a place in the national final.

Thu, 09:00
The 24 competitors from The Hall and South Hampstead High School pose together after their success at the Hemel Hempstead snow dome

South Hampstead High School and The Hall both took three teams to the Caxton FX 2015 indoor British Independent Schools slalom race at the Hemel Hempstead snow dome.

Thu, 07:30
Wingate & Finchley manager Simon Lane. Pic: Martin Addison

Wingate & Finchley manager Simon Lane will attempt to lead the Blues into uncharted territory in the FA Cup at the first attempt on Saturday as they host Conference South outfit Weston-super-Mare in the third qualifying round.

Wed, 17:00
Fly-half Jamie Niven (right) touched down twice for Belsize Park. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Belsize Park racked up more than 60 points for the second game in a row, scoring 10 tries to thump Stevenage Town in Regent’s Park and climb to third place in London North-West Division Three.

Wed, 16:00
Highgate Harriers' Andy Maud. Pic: Dieter Perry

Andy Maud stole the show in only his second appearance for Highgate Harriers on Saturday, recording the best time of all the club runners at the National Six Stage Road Relays.

Wed, 15:32
David Cooper (left, on the floor) celebrates his opening goal for Hampstead & Westminster. Pic: Mark Clews

Hampstead & Westminster’s ladies were unable to maintain their perfect start to the season as they suffered their first defeat in the National League – but the men’s team earned a second successive victory in the Premier Division.

Wed, 13:29
Hendon manager Gary McCann. Pic: Steffan Bowen

Hendon manager Gary McCann says his side need to improve their “powers of recovery” when they are trailing after they suffered a second successive league defeat on Saturday.

Most read sport

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Angharad Baa Stool in Rare Breed.

Great British Life is offering a sheepskin footstool worth £199 to a lucky reader

You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder