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Mako Vunipola (born 14 January 1991) is a professional rugby union player who plays at loosehead prop for Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership and the England national team. Born in New Zealand to Tongan parents, he qualified for England through residency.

Mako Vunipola
Mako Vunipola 2013.jpg
Birth nameMakovina Wanangarua I Whanga Nui-Atara Vunipola
Date of birth (1991-01-14) 14 January 1991 (age 28)
Place of birthWellington, New Zealand
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight122 kg (19 st 3 lb; 269 lb)[1]
SchoolPorth County Community School
West Monmouth School[2]
The Castle School
Millfield
Notable relative(s)Feʻao Vunipola (father)
Billy Vunipola (brother)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Loosehead Prop
Current team Saracens
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2009–10
2010–11
2011–
Clifton
Bristol
Saracens
11
40
155
(10)
(25)
(65)
Correct as of 10 September 2018
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)

2010–11
2012–
2013, 2017
England U18
England U20
England
British and Irish Lions

9
57
6

(5)
(5)
(0)
Correct as of 26 October 2019

Vunipola made his England debut in 2012 and has since won 52 caps. He toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017, winning 6 caps. He won the award for England Player of the Year in 2018.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Vunipola was raised for much of his childhood in Wales and attended Porth junior School, and later West Monmouth School. He started playing rugby in Wales, and played alongside brother Billy for New Panteg RFC. His family then moved to Thornbury, Gloucestershire, and he attended the local comprehensive The Castle School and then Millfield.

Club careerEdit

BristolEdit

Vunipola began his professional career at Bristol Rugby, and began to build his reputation in the South West, where his loose play was first perceived as outstanding.

SaracensEdit

Vunipola was signed at the end of the 2010–11 RFU Championship season by the 2010–11 Aviva Premiership Champions Saracens.[4]

International careerEdit

Vunipola represented the England U18 and U20 teams.[5] He was called up to the England Saxons Squad in September 2012 to replace Dave Wilson, who was promoted to the senior squad.[6] He was then called up to the England Squad in October 2012 for the Autumn Internationals, before making his debut from the bench against Fiji on 10 November 2012. He scored his first try for England during a 52-11 win over Italy.[7]

In 2013 Vunipola was selected for the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia, playing in all three tests.[8][9]

Vunipola has been a first-choice player for England since 2016.

In 2017, after returning from injury to win the Six Nations for the second year running, Vunipola was again selected for the British and Irish Lions. This time Vunipola would be touring to his birthplace in New Zealand. Vunipola's younger brother Billy was selected for the team as well, but withdrew before leaving the United Kingdom for New Zealand, being replaced by their team mate James Haskell in the squad. After strong performances during the tour, Vunipola started against the Maori All Blacks and the All Blacks for all three tests. Vunipola received a yellow card in the second test for a dangerous tackle on opposing first-five Beauden Barrett, ending his second test.

Vunipola made his 50th international appearance on 18 November 2017 when he started for England in their 30-6 win over Australia. He was replaced in the 63rd minute by fellow 50-test veteran Joe Marler.

International triesEdit

As of 7 July 2019 [10]
Try Opposing team Location Venue Competition Date Result Score
1   Italy Rome, Italy Stadio Olimpico 2014 Six Nations 15 March 2014 Win 52 – 11

Personal lifeEdit

Vunipola is the son of former Tongan captain Fe'ao Vunipola and Methodist Minister, Rev. Iesinga Vunipola (who is also Chaplain to the UK Tongan Community).[11] He is also the nephew of two other former international players, Manu and 'Elisi Vunipola who both represented Tonga in the 1990s. His early rugby career began playing for New Panteg RFC, playing alongside current Welsh Number 8 Taulupe Faletau. He also has a brother, Billy Vunipola who plays at number 8 for Saracens and England.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Aviva Premiership Rugby - Saracens". web page. Premier Rugby. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  2. ^ http://westmonmouthschool.com/west-mon-boy-picked-for-the-lions-tour-of-australia-2/
  3. ^ "Saracens - Vunipola wins England Player of the Year". Saracens. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Mako Vunipola To Leave For Saracens". Bristol Rugby. 6 April 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "BBC Sport - Dave Wilson wins promotion to England's elite player squad". Bbc.co.uk. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  7. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/26550308 BBC Sport. Six Nations 2014: England hammer Italy and wait on Ireland
  8. ^ "VIDEO – England announce 32-man squad for QBE Internationals". Rfu.com. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  9. ^ Paul Rees (30 April 2013). "Jonny Wilkinson turned down Lions chance, says Warren Gatland". London: Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Mako Vunipola". 7 July 2019.
  11. ^ Chadband, Ian (7 March 2013). "England v Italy: Vunipola brothers Mako and Billy want Mum to see their Sunday best". London: Daily Telegraph.

External linksEdit