|Weight||126kg (19st 11lb)|
A last-minute try on his Test debut showed how Viliami ‘Billy’ Vunipola has moved on swiftly from his days as an England U20 player last year when he appeared four times in the IRB Junior World Championship. His landmark touchdown from a scrum, along with a conversion from Freddie Burns, completed England’s 32-3 triumph over Argentina in Salta on June 8, 2013.
No stranger to the arts of try-scoring, he had done just that in successive matches against Italy and Wales to help England U18 to extend their victorious run to 19 international matches before the 23-17 defeat by hosts South Africa in the Four Team Tournament in July 2010. He was vice captain to Chris Walker on the tour and appeared in all three games.
Sydney-born Billy was brought into the England U20 squad for the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa as a replacement for Matt Kvesic, who had undergone surgery on a shoulder injury. Billy is part of a distinguished Tongan rugby dynasty, his brother Mako, who has nine England caps, is touring Australia with the British & Irish Lions, having also being a member of the national U20 squad.
Their father Fe’ao, a hooker won 32 caps for his country, figured in the 1995 and 1999 World Cups and played for Pontypool. He was head coach at Marlow, a South West One East club, before deciding to return home.
Six of Billy’s uncles and his grandfather represented Tonga. The two brothers previously played alongside each other in the England U18 team and their careers have progressed from there.
Billy, like Mako, qualifies for England through residency and his favourite ground is Twickenham. He said: “The atmosphere is crazy.” His maiden try was on his Premiership debut against Leeds Carnegie in April 2011 and he has now made 30 appearances in the competition.
Educated at the Castle School, Bristol, he went on to Harrow to study Photography, Design Technology, Physical Education and Business with aspirations of becoming a world renowned photographer.
A member of the London Wasps Academy, he played for Bristol in 2007-08 and has benefited from the England U18 coaching team of John Fletcher and Peter Walton.
Billy added: “Both have shown great belief and brought me through even though I thought I was just average. The players I most admire are those who are humble and hard working such as George Ford, our captain three years ago”
5 points – 1T
2013 Arg (1R,2R)
Last updated: June 17, 2013