Rugby Australia stance on Israel Folau unchanged after meeting

Fullback’s Wallabies and Waratahs contract to be terminated over Instagram post

Michael Leitch, the captain of the Japanese rugby union team, lambasts Australia's Israel Folau after the 30-year-old posted anti-LGBT content on social media. Video: Michael Leitch/Instagram

 

Israel Folau had a meeting with Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union to discuss his social media posts on Friday but the governing bodies said they still intended to terminate his contract.

The 30-year-old fullback, one of Australia’s few genuinely world class players, was informed on Thursday he would be sacked if he could offer no good reason for a social media post that said gay people would go to “hell” if they did not “repent”.

RA and NSWRU considered the post to be discriminatory and said the multi-million dollar contract Folau signed in February would be torn up.

Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, has maintained a public silence since posting the meme on Instagram late on Wednesday but finally made contact with his employers on Friday.

“Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union have met with Israel Folau in Sydney today,” the bodies said in a statement.

“As the meeting was held in confidence between the player and his employers, Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union will not comment on the discussions at the meeting.

“Following today’s meeting the two organisations will update their respective Boards on the matter to consider next steps.

“Our joint position regarding Israel Folau is unchanged.”

The New South Wales Waratahs have no Super Rugby fixture this week but the sacking of Folau would throw the plans of Australia coach Michael Cheika into disarray with only three months to go until the Rugby World Cup.

Folau escaped sanction when he posted similar comments last year but RA took a much harder line when, having repeatedly warned him against it, the player repeated the offence.

The fallout continued on Friday with numerous media columnists opining on what the decision meant for the country and politicians wading in.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is a Pentecostal Christian like Folau, said whether to sack him or not was a decision for only the rugby authorities to make.

“Israel’s comments were insensitive and it’s important that when you’re in public life, you’re just very mindful of being sensitive to other Australians and that you speak with that empathy,” he said.

Folau’s chances of switching back to rugby league in Australia were also dashed late on Thursday with the governing body the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) ruling out any return to the sport.

“Israel Folau doesn’t pass our inclusiveness culture, which is a policy strongly supported by the ARLC,” its chairman Peter Beattie told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“And after talking to some commissioners tonight (Thursday), we don’t support him playing rugby league again.”

His best chances therefore lie offshore, although the chances of joining French club Toulon appear to be non-existent with their outspoken owner Mourad Boudjellal criticising him in an interview in French newspaper L’Equipe.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.