Exeter players reminded over social media posts after Israel Folau affair

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Rob Baxter
Rob Baxter's league leaders are already guaranteed a home play-off semi-final in the Premiership with three games to go

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter says he has advised his players about their responsibilities on social media in the wake of the Israel Folau affair.

The full-back was sacked by Rugby Australia after a social media post in which he said "hell awaits" gay people.

England forward Billy Vunipola was reprimanded by the RFU after defending the post and was confronted by a fan in Saturday's Champions Cup semi-final.

"We've reminded the players about that," Baxter told BBC Sport.

"If you make a statement on social media, you're effectively making a statement just like I'm making one today to members of the press.

"It's all very well claiming it's your own opinion and the value you have of your own opinion and how much right you have to give your own opinion, but actually if you put it out there publicly you're making a statement about yourself."

The boss of the Premiership leaders added that players need to be aware that they are role models.

Baxter said: "The world is a different place now and we need to make sure that young sportsmen in particular just have an understanding that their opinions can be taken as statements of fact if they want to express them in that way.

"Most people don't say things deliberately in a bad context, but it's a reminder that they are important and influential people, and if you are an important and influential person you've got a responsibility about the things that you say."

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