Rugby Australia to terminate Folau deal after anti-gay post


Israel Folau and his anti-gay sentiments appear to have gone too far this time.

Rugby Australia said Thursday it plans to terminate the fullback’s contract with the national team after he made anti-gay comments on social media for the second year in a row.

When Folau made similar remarks on April 5, 2018, he escaped with a warning but no sanction. Now, only five months from the start of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where Folau was expected to be one of Australia’s leading players, Rugby Australia wasn’t so lenient.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle said in a statement that she and NSW Rugby Union head Andrew Hore made “repeated attempts” to contact Folau directly and via his representatives on Thursday, but that he failed to communicate with them.

“As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action,” Castle said. “In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”

Biden Snubs Brazilian President by Walking Offstage Without Handshake, Viral Reaction Says It All

Folau, one of the sport’s top players, published a message on his Instagram account late Wednesday saying that hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators.”

Castle said that while Folau was entitled to his religious beliefs, “the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport. We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.”

“Israel has failed to understand … that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality,” Castle said.

Australian airline Qantas, a national team sponsor, issued a statement earlier Thursday saying Folau’s comments “clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support.”

Folau has also publicly aired his opposition to same-sex marriage.

The 30-year-old Folau has 316,000 Instagram followers. By late afternoon Thursday, the controversial post had received 14,700 likes and 13,800 comments.

Folau has played 73 test matches for Australia. Last weekend while playing for the New South Wales Waratahs, Folau scored his 60th try, the most of any player in Super Rugby, breaking the record of former New Zealand winger Doug Howlett.

Two months ago, Folau signed a multimillion-dollar contract extension to remain with the Waratahs and Australian rugby until the end of 2022. Australian media had reported previously that Folau would walk away from any contract if his religious opinions and views on homosexuality were silenced.

On Thursday, before Rugby Australia’s statement, some contemplated that Folau again made the anti-gay comments so he could be released from the new long-term deal.

LSU Football Star Undergoes Emergency Surgery on 'Large Brain Tumor'

There were reports Thursday that he again might take up a rugby league contract, one of three football codes, including Australian Rules football, that he has played.

Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock said Folau had “pushed Rugby Australia into a corner and they have to act.”

“Everyone knows his point of view, right? He’s done this a number of times already,” Mortlock told the Australian Associated Press. “So it’s more (about) what was the motivation … knowing full well that he was probably going to get sanctioned.”

Former England rugby international Joe Marler, who plays for London club Harlequins, mocked Folau by posting two images of men kissing. Another former England international, James Haskell, wrote to Folau on Twitter and said “sport has no place for this … keep it to hate groups. You are an unreal player, but a … misinformed bigot.”

Former Wales rugby player Gareth Thomas, who announced he was gay in 2009, wrote on Twitter that people should “not be influenced” by Folau’s words and that Thomas had “sympathy” for Folau.

Britain-based LGBT charity Stonewall supported Rugby Australia’s move.

“Folau’s comments are just one example of how much work is still left to do to combat discrimination and the use of hateful language against lesbian, gay, bi and trans (gender) people,” said Kirsty Clarke, the director of sport at Stonewall.


More AP sports: and

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City