Despite receiving a four-match suspension, Mako Vunipola will still be able to play for England in the Six Nations tournament.
Mako Vunipola, a prop for both the Saracens and England rugby teams, has been suspended for four matches following his ejection during a game against Newcastle on Saturday. The referee deemed Vunipola’s tackle on Bryan Byrne, the Newcastle hooker, to be dangerous during the final moments of the Premiership match. As a result, Vunipola will not be able to participate in upcoming Premiership matches against Leicester and Exeter, as well as Champions Cup games against Bordeaux-Begles and Lyon.
Vunipola is expected to return for England’s first Six Nations match against Italy on February 3rd, if Borthwick chooses to bring him back. This could be beneficial due to the injuries of Genge, Marler, and Rodd, who were all part of England’s World Cup squad as loosehead props.
An impartial disciplinary panel reviewed Vunipola’s case. According to the Rugby Football Union, the player acknowledged that a violation occurred, but argued it did not warrant a red card. The panel agreed with the charge and issued a four-game suspension to Vunipola. He will not be able to participate in World Rugby’s coaching intervention program, as he had already completed it in 2022.
If Vunipola had not already completed the program, he could have applied for it now and possibly had one game removed from his suspension.
In the meantime, the Exeter rugby team’s director, Rob Baxter, has praised Henry Slade’s impact this season and believes he should be considered for a spot on the England team again. Last summer, Borthwick made a surprising decision to leave Slade, who has played in 56 games, out of his World Cup roster. However, Slade has shown his worth by leading Exeter to second place in the Premiership standings and will face top-ranked Northampton at Sandy Park on Saturday. He currently holds the highest number of points scored in the Premiership this season, proving to be a crucial player both on and off the field.
Borthwick will be revealing his team for the upcoming Six Nations tournament later this month. Baxter expressed his belief that Henry is a strong contender and will likely be included in the team. While there are other talented players in the center position, Baxter is sure that Henry will be part of the selection process. Therefore, it is crucial for Henry to maintain his current level of performance.
“He now has a few weeks ahead of him with some important games coming up. First, we have a top-ranked match against Northampton on Saturday, which presents a great chance for him to shine. Then, we have European Cup matches in the following weeks. These are significant opportunities for Sladey to make a strong impression and I have no doubt he will make the most of them.”