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RFU lean into Pride month as Israel Folau arrives at Twickenham

By Nick Heath
Israel Folau (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Rugby Football Union has announced that the LGBTQ+ Pride Progress flag will be flown over Twickenham stadium ahead of Israel Folau’s potential appearance as part of a World XV team set to face the Barbarians next week.


Folau has courted controversy since posting his religious beliefs on his Instagram channel, including stating that homosexuals and gay people are going to hell and must repent for their sins.

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for the social media posts and he has, with little sense of irony, been unrepentant in leaving them visible to all. This is despite the damage that such a role model could cause to young LGBTQ+ people that may be struggling with accepting themselves or being accepted by those around them.

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Folau has since taken advantage of the World Rugby eligibility rules to switch allegiance and play for Tonga, who he is set to represent at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France. He has also been named in Steve Hansen’s World XV training squad to face the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 28th.

Given the match is taking place at the home of England Rugby, the RFU are keen to make a statement on the eve of Pride month which happens to coincide with Folau’s arrival.


The RFU have said, “We strive to be a sport that is inclusive to all players, staff and fans, regardless of identity or background. This ethos sits at the very heart of all the work we do, as set out in the RFU’s inclusion and diversity action plan.

“The Barbarians hire Twickenham stadium for their fixture and while the RFU does not have a role in player selection we have worked with the organisers to have a foreword in the match day programme to express support for the LGBTQ+ community and we will fly the Pride Progress flag over Twickenham during the Barbarians v World XV fixture and throughout June.


“As we enter Pride month, it is important to acknowledge that people from the LGBTQ+ community continue to face discrimination and exclusion in all walks of life, sport included.”


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