Wallabies superstar Israel Folau has had his four-year, $4 million contract with Rugby Australia terminated because of his controversial social media posts about gays and other so-called “sinners” he believes are destined for hell.
A three-person independent panel announced their verdict on Friday – 10 days after deciding Folau had committed a “high-level” breach of RA’s professional players’ code of conduct.
The Wallabies’ only three-times player of the year and Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer has 72 hours to appeal and force the governing body into proceeding with a second code of conduct hearing.
After being formally warned last year for similar anti-gay posts, Folau took to Instragram last year proclaiming homosexuals and other so-called “sinners” were destined for hell unless they repented.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said it was a sad day for Australian rugby but that Folau had left the governing body with no alternative t han to seek termination of his contract.
“We want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game,” Castle said on Friday.
“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action.
“This has been an extremely challenging period for Rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.
“But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.
“I’ve communicated directly with the players to make it clear that Rugby Australia fully supports their right to their own beliefs and nothing that has happened changes that.
“But when we are talking about inclusiveness in our game, we’re talking a bout respecting differences as well.
“When we say rugby is a game for all, we mean it. People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion, or sexuality.
“We thank the tribunal panel for their decision and we respect the time, consideration and expertise the panel members brought to this process.
“Representing Australia and all Australians on the Rugby field is a privilege.
“Selection is dependent upon a player’s ability to contribute to the Wallabies, and the game of Rugby itself, in a positive and consistent manner both on and off the field.
“When players sign a contract with the Wallabies, they sign up to the values of the team and the sport.”
Castle commended Folau as a “great rugby player”.
“We are disappointed and saddened by the fact that he will not see out his four-year commitment to the Wallabies and Waratahs,” she said
It is expected that Folau will launch action against Rugby Australia in the Supreme Court.
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