Israel Folau agreed his post hurt people but said he would not stop, Rugby Australia claims
2 December, 2019, 6:05 pm
Rugby Australia claims Israel Folau admitted that his social media post caused harm but maintained that he would continue to post “whatever he likes”.
The chief executive of Rugby Australia, Raelene Castle, made the comments outside the federal court in Melbourne on Monday where the sacked Wallabies player and his wife, Maria Folau, were attending a mediation meeting over his $14m compensation claim.
Folau claims he was wrongfully dismissed by Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW after a controversial Instagram post in April condemning “drunks” and “homosexuals” and warning “hell awaits” them.
“Israel admitted he had caused harm with his comments and stated that he would not curb his social media use and will post whatever he likes whenever he feels the need to share his views,” Castle said.
Last week the former rugby league and AFL player increased his compensation claim from $10m to $14m, and said the Wallabies would have done better in the 2019 Rugby World Cup if he was playing.
“I understand that not everyone shares my faith and some find it difficult to reconcile with their own beliefs,” Folau said in a video posted on his website before the meeting.
“I want to be clear that I only share passages from the Bible as a gesture of love.
“We pray that we might all find redemption and peace in the words of the lord Jesus Christ as we head to today’s mediation. We also ask that he watches over us, so that both parties might realise the courage to uphold the truth.”
But Castle said she had been sent messages and emails from the rugby community supporting the decision to sack Folau.
“That leaves us in no doubt that we are doing what’s right,” she said. “Israel’s commentary subsequent to his termination has only reinforced this belief.”
Castle said a tribunal found Folau had committed a high-level breach of his contract and he had refused to curb his social media use.
“Rugby Australia is confident in its legal position but we come here today with a genuine desire to find a settlement that is sensible and reasonable so that we can return all our focus and resources to growing the game of rugby across Australia,” she said.
Folau is a hardline Christian who also recently claimed fatal bushfires were God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage, sparking criticism from the prime minister, Scott Morrison.