Q& A RUGBY; A Year Ago Mako and Billy Vunipola Were Relatively Unknown - but Now the Former Is a Lion and Both Are England Internationals. Billy Has Also Joined His Brother at Saracens, and Here They Give Their First Joint Interview since That Controversial Switch from Wasps

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 23, 2013 | Go to article overview

Q& A RUGBY; A Year Ago Mako and Billy Vunipola Were Relatively Unknown - but Now the Former Is a Lion and Both Are England Internationals. Billy Has Also Joined His Brother at Saracens, and Here They Give Their First Joint Interview since That Controversial Switch from Wasps


Byline: year ago Mako Billy Vunipola were relatively

Q: SARACENS LIKE TO DO THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY, SO TELL US ABOUT THE PRE-SEASON TOUR TO SOUTH AFRICA.

Mako Vunipola: It was awesome. We trained hard and the last few days were spent in the bush on safari.

Billy Vunipola: It was incredible to see the animals in their natural habitat. There were lions, elephants, rhinos -- the lot. The highlight for me was probably seeing a lion eating an antelope. We were about 15 metres away and the whole smell and sense of it all was pretty cool.

MV: I really enjoyed seeing the leopard.

He was only a one-year-old but he was massive, just pure muscle. He can drag a carcass weighing 220kg up a tree, and that sort of strength is just amazing. Could we do something similar in training? I'd better not mention it to the coaches - they might make us do it.

Q: DO TRIPS LIKE THIS GENUINELY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? SARACENS SWEAR BY THEM BUT OTHER CLUBS SEEM LESS CONVINCED.

BV: Others mock it - I know I did when I was at Wasps. I used to give my brother stick for it, saying: 'Who cares about these trips? It's about who wins on the day rather than who goes on holiday'. But last year they went to Verbier, came back and beat us, which rather destroyed my argument. And now that I'm here I can see it's about making genuine friends, rather than just having team-mates.

Q: BILLY, WASPS WEREN'T VERY HAPPY WHEN YOU LEFT. DID THAT AFFECT YOU? BV: It bothered me, and the decision of whether to leave stressed me out a lot. But coming into this environment and having so much fun has lifted a weight off my shoulders as all the doubts are gone and I know my family and I made the right decision. The players understood and I shook hands with Dai (Young, Wasps' director of rugby) and we wished each other good luck, which I was really glad about.

MV: We live in a professional era and leaving clubs is part of it. My brother had been at Wasps for a number of years but there are bigger things - as a family we just didn't want to play against each other.

Q: YOU PLAYED AGAINST EACH OTHER LAST SEASON. …

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Q& A RUGBY; A Year Ago Mako and Billy Vunipola Were Relatively Unknown - but Now the Former Is a Lion and Both Are England Internationals. Billy Has Also Joined His Brother at Saracens, and Here They Give Their First Joint Interview since That Controversial Switch from Wasps
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