Israel Folau stood down by Waratahs

Israel Folau. Photo: Getty Images
Israel Folau. Photo: Getty Images

The Waratahs have stood down under-fire fullback Israel Folau until further notice, after his anti-gay posts on social media.

Less than 24 hours after Rugby Australia (RA) said "in the absence of compelling mitigating factors" Folau's contract would be terminated, the 30-year old met with RA boss Raelene Castle and the New South Wales (NSW) Rugby Union.

No suspension was imposed on Folau, but NSW Rugby confirmed it would stand him down.

The Waratahs are not playing this weekend, but are in action next weekend against the Rebels.

The stand-down comes after a joint statement from NSW Rugby and RA saying their views haven't changed and they still intend to tear up his multimillion-dollar contract.

"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," RA said.

"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."

Earlier, Folau and his New Zealand netball wife Maria, were seen with the chief executive of Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) Prataal Raj at a cafe.

RUPA later said it would continue to work with Folau and that he remained contracted to RA and NSW Rugby, but that the union did not endorse his views.

"It is important to note that Israel remains contracted to both Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs at this time, and as such has signalled his intention to continue to honour his contract," RUPA said.

"It is RUPA's position that any disciplinary action must be dealt with in accordance with the Rugby AU Professional Player Code of Conduct.

"RUPA will continue to offer our support to Israel as required. The views expressed by Israel are his alone and are not endorsed by RUPA."

In cases of a Code of Conduct, the player in question would have to face a three-person independent disciplinary tribunal, like that which was established in 2014 to address Kurtley Beale's breach.

"It is important to note that Israel remains contracted to both Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs at this time, and as such has signalled his intention to continue to honour his contract," the RUPA statement read.

"It is RUPA's position that any disciplinary action must be dealt with in accordance with the Rugby AU Professional Player Code of Conduct.

RUPA will work alongside Israel and his representatives, the NSW Rugby Union and Rugby Australia to ensure that this process is followed.

"RUPA will continue to offer our support to Israel as required.

"The views expressed by Israel are his alone and are not endorsed by RUPA."

Rugby Australia has not made public their specific grounds for termination and it is unclear how long the process would take regardless of the grounds.

At the time of that statement, Folau had failed to communicate directly with Rugby Australia or the New South Wales Rugby Union, but he is now in a quest to save his sporting career.

Folau was initially contracted until the end of 2022, but with the NRL also announcing that they will not employ Folau, his sporting career could be in tatters with no other options if his contract is indeed torn up.

"Earning $1 million a season, Folau must make a compelling case of mitigating factors at the code of conduct hearing if he is to overturn RA's decision," the Daily Telegraph. explained.

Folau had just last week become Super Rugby's all-time leading try scorer, and if terminated, he would be unable to complete the season with the Waratahs or play for the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup.

Reaction to Rugby Australia's decision was mixed, with many supportive of the strong leadership shown and others criticising the organisation for what they viewed as an infringement on Folau's freedom of religious expression.

Folau's younger brother John, who is also contracted with the Waratahs, seemingly posted on Instagram in support of Israel on Friday.

Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano said players have to be more careful about what they post on social media in the wake of Folau's controversial posts.

Speaking at the Brumbies' captain's run on Friday morning, Lealiifano became the first Australian Super Rugby player to comment after news of Rugby Australia's announcement that they plan to sack Folau over his latest Instagram post.

While Lealiifano wouldn't comment on Folau's situation specifically, when asked about players' social media use, he admitted everyone had to be careful when posting.

"I'm probably not in a position to answer those, I don't really want to get involved in all that stuff," he said.

"I'm just excited about Joey's 50th game, back in front of our home fans in Canberra.

"We're trying to put a positive light on our footy. Get excited about rugby in Australia and rugby in Canberra and hopefully we can get a good crowd tomorrow night.

"I think we're always conscious of it - with the last day and a half, [the message is] probably just to be more careful of what we're doing. Guys are always trying to promote the game as well as we can."

Add a Comment

 

Advertisement

postanote_header_620_x_80.png

postanote_620_x_25.jpg