Five things to know about Mako Vunipola, the big hit of RC Vannes

Mako Vunipola is an England international, England being the country where he grew up. He has 79 caps for two tests. The left prop, who arrives in Vannes to replace the promising Andy Bordelai who left for Bayonne, has also played nine test matches with the British and Irish Lions, a sort of super selection bringing together players from all the nations of the United Kingdom and Ireland, meeting during tours in the Southern Hemisphere, every four years. His record is balanced: four wins, one draw, four losses.

  • 2…but born in New Zealand

Although he never played for a New Zealand team, club or country, Mako Vunipola was born in the land of the Long White Cloud. It was in Wellington, on January 31, 1991.

  • 3 Brother of an English rugby star

    As is often the case in the South Pacific islands, rugby is a family affair for the Vunipolas. Mako is the son of Fe’ao Vunipola, a Tongan international who played in Wellington, then continued his career in Wales and England. He is also the nephew of Elisi Vunipola, who has 41 caps and eight tries for Tonga. Finally, his little brother is the best known of the family. Billy, born in Sydney, Australia, in November 1992, has played 74 matches with the XV de la Rose. Trained at London Wasps, then leader of Saracens since 2013. The younger brother has participated in three World Cups, one more than Mako, and was named in the typical team for the English championship in 2016. His position as number 8, more central and more likely to get him to touch the ball, has allowed him to score nine tries with England.

    Mako Vunipola with the British and Irish Lions jersey during a match against the Stormers, in Cape Town, South Africa on July 17, 2021. (Photo Nic Bothma/EPA)
  • 4 Winner of three European Cups

    With the crème anglaise of rugby in the mid-2010s (Owen Farrell, Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, etc.), Mako Vunipola won three European Cups with Saracens. This was during the 2015-2016 seasons (21-9 victory against Racing 92 in the final), 2016-2017 (28-17 success against Clermont in the final) and 2018-2019 (20-10 victory against Leinster in the final). In 2014, Saracens lost in the final to Jonny Wilkinson’s Toulon. With the “Sarries”, Vunipola was also five times English champion (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2023).

  • 5 2019 World Cup Finalist

    With England, Mako Vunipola was part of the 2015 World Cup fiasco at home (elimination in the first round after defeats against Wales and Australia) but also of the redemption of the 2019 World Cup. The same group or almost led by Owen Farrell and George Ford reached the World Cup final after an anthology semi-final against New Zealand (19-7). The English then lost against South Africa of Cheslin Kolbe and Siya Kolisi (12-32).

Vunipola has also shone in the Six Nations, being part of England’s Grand Slam team in 2016 and those that won the event in 2017 and 2020.

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