Folau vows to fight on despite not appealing

While Israel Folau will not appeal against his contract termination, he is set to take his case to court.
While Israel Folau will not appeal against his contract termination, he is set to take his case to court.

SYDNEY • Israel Folau lashed out at Rugby Australia (RA) yesterday for damaging his reputation, signalling an intention to fight on after his contract was torn up over homophobic comments.

The former Wallabies full-back, who is known to be a devout Christian, was found guilty of a "high-level" breach of the governing body's code of conduct for saying "hell awaits" gays and others he deems as sinners on his social media pages.

A tribunal decided it warranted an end to his lucrative four-year A$4 million (S$3.8 million) contract to play for the Wallabies and Super Rugby outfit Waratahs.

The 30-year-old, who was one of the sport's most marketable figures and had been set to be a key part of the Wallabies' plans at the World Cup in Japan this year, was on Friday given 72 hours to appeal, which would have triggered another hearing with a new three-person panel.

But he opted against that course of action, which prompted RA to issue a statement yesterday, which read: "With the code-of-conduct matter complete, Folau's employment contract will be terminated."

However, Super Rugby's record try scorer (60), was adamant he did not accept the verdict, insisting "I still have a lot of rugby left in me".

Folau added: "My decision not to commence Rugby Australia's appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel's findings.

"I simply do not have confidence in their ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process.

"The potential impact of Rugby Australia's decision on my reputation and my career is substantial."

He has yet to make clear his next step, but is tipped to take the divisive case, which has pitted his right to religious expression against restrictions on hate speech, to the courts.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph has reported that he is determined to make a statement to the world about religious expression by pursuing legal action.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Folau vows to fight on despite not appealing'. Print Edition | Subscribe