Controversial rugby star Israel Folau sacked by Rugby Australia

Paola Ditto
Mag 18, 2019

RA claimed the post - which said hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars" and others, and called them to repent - was a "high-level breach" of its code of conduct.

Folau said in a statement following the news that he was considering his options and that he is "deeply saddened" by the decision, suggesting that an appeal is likely to follow.

"Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation but Rugby Australia's position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue a course of action resulting in today's outcome".

"I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's word", he said.

Castle also said Australian rugby still welcomed those with religious beliefs, declaring her confidence in Michael Cheika's ability to unite the Wallabies' diverse playing group for their Rugby World Cup campaign.

Folau has the right to appeal against the termination of his contract, while a report in Australia says he is considering taking RA to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, before the decision was delivered, he changed his social media profile picture from a photograph of him playing for the Waratahs to a No 1 overlaid with the words "God first". This issue has created an unwanted disruption in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.

For everyone. Both for Israel and the fact he won't play rugby for the Wallabies again, for the fans that have had to live through a month of this speculation, for the teammates who have had to live with the fall-out and for the rest of the Rugby Australia employees, I think it has been a really hard time.

"When we say rugby is a game for all, we mean it". "We expect our partners to take the appropriate action".

Castle said any discussions over a settlement had not proceeded beyond the two teams of lawyers and that given Folau's lack of remorse - the offending post is still on his feed - it was unlikely he would ever play for Australia again.

"I could go back and play the game, get everything back to the way it used to be", Folau said.

"I would like to thank my wife Maria for her love and encouragement to stay true to our beliefs".

"We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, players, fans and the wider community", he said.

Rugby Australia has also been under fire for not inserting a social media clause into Folau's contract but in Australia, the players' union RUPA holds significant sway.

In the comments section of the post, Folau, who plays for New South Wales Waratahs, replied, "HELL".

Folau shared a similar post targeting gay people last year but escaped sanction and signed a new four-year contract, reported to be worth A$4 million ($2.77 million), in February.

"But if you are going to express them as an employee of an organisation, when you have signed a contract that clearly sets out the expectations of the values of that code, you must abide by that contract and if you don't, it is a breach of contract and your contract could be terminated".

It is confirmation the Wallabies will now be without their best player - who scored 37 tries in 72 Tests - at the World Cup.

In a statement, the worldwide full back thanked those who supported his right to share his beliefs.

"There is only one issue here and that is they are getting money from a sponsor and apparently the sponsor has intervened and said he doesn't like it".

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle prepares to speak as she stands next to NSW Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore in Sydney.

The controversial post caused a stir on social media with many users accusing the player of homophobia.

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