England rugby star Billy Vunipola opens up on being tasered by Spanish police during drunken arrest

Vunipola was fined and handed a suspended four-month prison sentence for resisting arrest at a Mallorca bar in the early hours of Sunday morning

Luke Baker
Friday 03 May 2024 15:13 BST
Billy Vunipola was arrested in Spain over the weekend
Billy Vunipola was arrested in Spain over the weekend (Getty Images)

Billy Vunipola has opened up about the experience of being tasered twice by Spanish police and his issues with alcohol that led to the arrest in Mallorca last weekend.

The England rugby star was fined €240 (£205) and handed a suspended four-month prison sentence by an express trial for resisting arrest, having refused to leave Epic bar in the island’s capital, Palma, in the early hours of Sunday morning and then flailing at police officers as they tried to handcuff him,

Vunipola has revealed that he had been drinking alcohol for the first time in almost two years during a social trip organised by his club Saracens – who confirmed after an internal investigation that they would take no further action against the 31-year-old – and that led to his actions, for which he has apologised.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, the 20-stone No 8 has discussed his memories of the experience and what caused the situation, while also explaining that he doesn’t have a clear recollection of the police twice using a Taser on him – after the first shot had little effect.

“I don’t remember that and I don’t remember getting tasered,” explained Vunipola. “I think I was going to walk out towards the door and as I walked towards the door, something hit me from the back [the Taser shot].

“I’ve got two marks on me. Someone told me, ‘Those with more muscle get more affected by it (Taser) than those with a little bit more bedding.’ I guess I was lucky I had a bit more belly because I didn’t feel it as much! I just remember a snippet of ‘Oohh’ (pain). Next thing I knew, my head is on the ground and that was it. Even when I was on the ground, they were shocked that I still had the energy to fight them – well, not fight them, resist them, which is what I got done for.”

Billy Vunipola was in Mallorca, on a Saracens social trip, when the incident occurred.
Billy Vunipola was in Mallorca, on a Saracens social trip, when the incident occurred. (Getty Images)

There were initial media reports from Spain that Vunipola had become aggressive in the bar, threatening staff and customers with chairs and bottles – something the back row, who won 75 caps for England with the last of those coming in 2023, strenuously denies. He admits he kept removing his shirt, which aggravated bar staff, but is adamant the threats did not occur.

‘No, definitely not. I didn’t do that,” he insisted. “The issue is that I forget how big I am sometimes, in a crowded place. I saw the interview that the (bar) owner did saying I was elbowing people, but I had no intention to be threatening. I never touched a bottle and I never lifted a chair.

‘When the incident happened, I was in shock about how significant the response was to me taking my top off. Obviously, it’s silly, but I was shocked. It looks like I’m laughing and joking, but I’m not laughing at them, or instigating anything, I was just shocked that I didn’t just get pushed out (by security).

“The thing I do remember is them threatening (to call) the cops and me thinking, “Why? I haven’t done anything. Did I beat someone up?” They said, “No, you just won’t leave”. I know when I’m drunk, I don’t listen to anyone. That’s what it came down to; drinking way too much and not listening to what people were telling me to do.”

After his arrest, Vunipola was taken to a local hospital where he was strapped to a bed and sedated

“I think the reason I got sedated was because I fought so hard when they were cuffing me,” he added, before reflecting on how he felt when he woke up in hospital. “I was definitely confused. I remember thinking that it was all a dream and I was going to wake up. I was just gutted and embarrassed. I was disappointed that I didn’t just get to enjoy the time. I ruined it for myself and for everyone else.”

Vunipola has won 75 England caps during his career
Vunipola has won 75 England caps during his career (Getty Images)

Vunipola is candid about the effect that drinking has on him and claims this was the first time he had consumed alcohol since becoming teetotal back in August 2022.

He is set to leave Saracens at the end of the season for French club Montpellier and wanted to celebrate on the final social trip away with his long-time teammates. But he admits he took things too far and was keen to apologise for the hurt he caused.

“I caused a huge amount of embarrassment and put a spotlight on the club when they were trying to do something nice for us,” he said. “It’s disappointing that I let what happened happen, by drinking too much. I am very sorry.

‘My issue is just not knowing when to stop and that’s probably why I stopped drinking for so long. I’ve never really been a casual drinker. If I drink, I get to a place where I probably forget what I did. That’s the reason why I had stopped and the reason why I had a drink (last weekend) was because it was my last ever trip with the boys and I wanted to really enjoy it, but obviously I went too far.”

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