Folau likely to appeal ruling

Israel Folau's future in Australian rugby is looking increasingly grim. Photo: Reuters
Israel Folau's future in Australian rugby is looking increasingly grim. Photo: Reuters
Contract termination looms for Israel Folau as an independent panel agreed with Rugby Australia that he committed a serious breach with his social media posts.

Folau's legal team is working feverishly to save his career after the Wallabies superstar was found guilty of committing a "high level" breach of his contract and is likely to appeal the ruling.


His future in Australian rugby is looking increasingly grim after an independent panel retired to consider a sanction following an intense three-day code of contract hearing in Sydney.

Folau's fate now rests in the hands of the three-person panel comprising chair John West QC, Rugby Australia representative Kate Eastman SC and the RUPA-appointed John Boultbee.

RA boss Raelene Castle issued Folau with a breach notice last month following his controversial social media posts about homosexuals and other sinners and threatened to tear up his four-year, $A4 million ($NZ4.25 million) contract.

The 30-year-old devout Christian took to Instagram to proclaim "hell awaits" for "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators".

While Folau may yet be spared the sack, termination of his contract is now a possibility.

The panel will consider written submissions from both Folau and RA before a sanction is handed down - with no time frame on any decision provided.

It is likely to be several more days before Folau learns his fate - and even then the three-times John Eales Medallist is expected to appeal and one of the most divisive cases in Australian sports history will wind up in the courts.

Folau and his legal team will plead for leniency on the issue, saying while it is a high-level offence, he should be fined and suspended instead of having his contract torn up.

RA will argue they have no option but to go through with the sacking of Folau, given his vilification of the gay community - among other alleged "sinners" in controversial social media posts - and the damage he has caused the game.

Had the panel deemed Folau's breach of RA's players' code of conduct anything less than "high level", the governing body would not have had the power to boot the devout Christian out of the game.

The best punishment Folau can now hope for is a suspension and/or a fine.

Should he be sacked, Folau - Super Rugby's all-time leading try-scorer and a 73-Test stalwart for the Wallabies - would be the first Australian athlete dismissed for expressing fundamental religious beliefs.

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