Israel Folau rejects 'buyout' offer of a million dollars to walk away from Australian Rugby
Israel Folau’s landmark code of conduct hearing has resumed in Sydney.
Folau returned to Rugby Australia (RA) headquarters on Sunday morning with his legal team set to continue arguing his case against having his four-year, $4 million, contract torn up.
The dual international reportedly rejected a $1 million offer to walk away before the hearing began on Saturday after RA chief executive Raelene Castle hit Folau with a “high-level” breach notice last month.
As brought to the attention of former teammate Drew Mitchell, this rejection further contradicts Folau’s own words penned on the website PlayersVoice, where he wrote he would walk away if Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle was of the opinion that Folau’s actions were hurting Rugby Australia and their sponsors.
Folau, Castle and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika all provided verbal evidence on Saturday and the governing body said no more witnesses were expected to be called upon on Sunday.
Folau’s defence counsel of solicitor Ramy Quatami and barrister Adam Casselden spent the opening day of the hearing arguing that Folau’s latest round of inflammatory Instagram posts were merely passages from the Bible and not his direct words.
They also put foot forward the fact that RA didn’t include a specific social media clause when the John Eales Medallist signed a new contract in February.
But after being formally warned last year when he posted similar passages claiming gays were destined for hell, RA’s legal team headed up by Justin Gleeson SC are saying the superstar fullback has breached the player code of conduct and social media policies.
RA has indicated that the three-person panel of chair John West QC, RA representative Kate Eastman SC and the Rugby Union Players’ Association-elected John Boultbee will not reach a decision on Sunday.
The panel plans to mull over all evidence from both parties before announcing a verdict.
If the tribunal determines that Folau has in fact breached his contract, the panel must then decide if the breach was severe enough to terminate his career.
Both Folau and RA will have until 72 hours after any decision is handed down to appeal.
They may appeal because of an error of law; or it’s deemed the decision was unreasonable or insupportable having regard to the evidence on which it was based; and/or that the penalty imposed was manifestly inadequate or unjust.
Regardless of events this week, the matter is almost certain to wind up before the courts and could drag on for months and even years.
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