Rugby Australia, Folau meet following Folau's anti-gay post
SYDNEY (AP) — Rugby Australia said it and the New South Wales Rugby Union met Israel Folau in Sydney on Friday over his anti-gay social media posts but that it did not change its position to terminate the star fullback's contract.
RA said in a statement that the meeting, which Australian media said lasted 10 minutes, was confidential and that neither side would comment on what was discussed.
"Following today's meeting the two organizations will update their respective boards on the matter to consider next steps," the Rugby Australia statement said. "Our joint position regarding Israel Folau is unchanged."
On Thursday, Rugby Australia said it planned 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 Thursday 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."
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 Thursday 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."
Folau, 30, 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.