Folau gets the all-clear
Israel Folau will not be sanctioned by Rugby Australia for his controversial stance on homosexuality.
RA boss Raelene Castle has been satisfied by a column in which the Wallabies star, who is off contract at the end of the year, reiterates his religious convictions after claiming on social media earlier this month that gay people are destined for hell unless they repent their “sins”.
“In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game. We accept Israel’s position,” Castle said in a statement yesterday.
It came after Folau said he would quit rugby if his position became untenable, as his faith took priority over his career.
In a column posted on Monday night on the PlayersVoice website, Folau also said he felt misrepresented by Castle.
“During the meeting (with RA on April 10) I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe,” Folau wrote.
“They explained their position and talked about external pressure from the media, sponsors and different parts of the community, which I understand.
“I acknowledge Raelene and Andrew have to run things in a way that appeals broadly to their executive, fans and sponsors, as well as its players and staff. It is a business.
“After we’d all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.
“I feel I need to explain this part in more detail because at no stage over the past two weeks have I wanted that to happen.”
Folau denied he was angling to get a release from his RA deal to pursue an NRL contract, saying he had overseas rugby offers that were way above anything he could earn in Australia.
“It’s about what I believe in and never compromising that, because my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be,” he wrote.
“After the meeting I went home, turned on the TV and was really disappointed with some of the things that were said in the press conference.
“I felt Raelene misrepresented my position ... and did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia.
“That aside, I hope Raelene and Andrew appreciate my position.” In his column, Folau reinforced his belief that gays were destined for hell unless they repented, citing the Bible.
Earlier yesterday, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson remained hopeful Folau would not walk away from the game.
“I’ve read (the column) – I thought it was a very balanced article,” he said.
“It certainly explains his point of view and gives us all a greater understanding of his perspective.
“What I have been really impressed with is the team have supported Israel.
“We may not all agree with his belief but we support him as a teammate and his right to express that freedom.”
STRONG BELIEFS: Star Waratah and Wallaby Israel Folau is prepared to walk away from the game.