Billy Vunipola suffers arm injury in Saracens’ draw at Ospreys

Saracens left Swansea on Saturday with an injury scare surrounding No 8 Billy Vunipola and their European Champions Cup quarter-final hopes hanging by a thread.

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said that Vunipola suffered an arm injury that forced him off at half-time as the Champions Cup holders were held 15-15 by Pool Two rivals Ospreys.

Vunipola, playing only his second comeback game after a three-month absence with knee trouble, could now be a concern for the start of England’s Six Nations campaign, which begins against Italy in Rome on February 4.

Vunipola’s injury completed a difficult day for England head coach Eddie Jones after Wasps flanker James Haskell was dismissed in his side’s defeat to Harlequins.

“He [Vunipola] has an arm injury which we will obviously explore right away,” said McCall.

“I don’t know what the extent of the injury is.

“Michael Rhodes has pulled a hamstring, so we had quite a lot to contend with. Our starting back-row were gone by half-time, and Jackson Wray went before the game, so there was a lot to deal with.

“But ultimately, it came down to the scrum today. It was just not good enough.”

Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell and his opposite number Dan Biggar each kicked five penalties, with Biggar’s final equalising strike arriving just a minute from time.

Saracens now realistically need a bonus-point victory over Allianz Park visitors Northampton next weekend to have any chance of progressing as a best runner-up.

But even then, their European title hat-trick bid staying alive will still hinge on results elsewhere, while Ospreys must beat Clermont Auvergne in France to have any chance of progressing.

McCall added: “We knew beforehand what the pools were, but it is completely out of our hands now.

“It was scrappy, tight, stop-start game with the weather being the way it was, but when it came down to penalty count at scrum-time, we lost that really heavily and that was the fundamental problem.

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“It is not in our hands. If the Ospreys beat Clermont next week, we are out of the competition if other results go [against us], and maybe we don’t deserve to be in the competition because we have lost back-to-back games against Clermont and drew a game today.

“We have probably not been quite good enough in the competition, although we started it well.

“The Clermont home game happened (Saracens lost 46-14), and we had to deal with it. As a group, we dealt with it and did pretty well from there on, but that was probably the one which we will look back on and regret.”

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