Rugby: Billy Vunipola ruled out of Six Nations with Ben Morgan set to replace him
10:07am Tuesday 25th February 2014 in Thornbury Sport
ENGLAND No 8 Billy Vunipola has been ruled out of the remainder of the RBS Six Nations with an ankle injury.
Vunipola, who grew up in Thornbury, 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.
The 21-year-old sprained his right ankle in the 37th minute at Twickenham before watching the second half from the bench with the damaged area heavily strapped 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.
Former Dursley player Ben Morgan replaced Vunipola against Ireland, making 18 tackles and producing two turnovers, and will be promoted to the starting line-up for the visit of defending champions 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.
Billy’s brother Mako Vunipola came off the bench once again on 64 minutes against Ireland, with former Frampton Cotterell youth player Dave Attwood being used in the unfamiliar position of second row for the final ten minutes to help England hold onto the win, which kept them in title contention.
Attwood said on Twitter: “Thanks for the messages. Was a great win for us today. Quiet eye on the next game. But worth taking time to celebrate an important victory!”
Meanwhile, Callum Braley led England to a crushing 33-9 win over Ireland in the U20 Six Nations.
Captain Braley, who grew up in Coalpit Heath, said: “We knew that Ireland would come out fighting and so it proved – they came at us from the first minute and I don’t think we felt comfortable at any point.
“It’s always pleasing to get the win and I’m delighted for the lads who all put in big shifts.”