Billy Vunipola to miss England's Rugby World Cup opener

Billy Vunipola has received a three-week suspension
Billy Vunipola has received a three-week suspension

England have been dealt another blow ahead of the Rugby World Cup with Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola set to miss the tournament opener against Argentina.

The news is a big blow to head coach Steve Borthwick, who already had skipper Owen Farrell ruled out of the first two Pool games against Argentina and Japan after receiving a four-game ban.

The 30-year-old was initially sin-binned during the warm-up fixture against Ireland for a dangerous tackle on Andrew Porter which was later upgraded to a red card using the bunker review system.

Vunipola faced an independent disciplinary committee on Tuesday and was initially handed an eight-week suspension that was reduced to three weeks taking into account the mitigating factors.

His ban could be further reduced by a week if he successfully completes the World Rugby’s Coaching Intervention Programme.

He will now miss England's final warm-up match against Fiji on Saturday and their World Cup opening came against the Pumas in Marseille on 9th September but is expected to be available for the encounter against Japan in Nice on 17th September.