Rugby Australia faces a massive moral dilemma following more explosive online posts from outspoken Wallabies linchpin Israel Folau.
Folau’s future in rugby is again in doubt after the code-hopping superstar took to Twitter to insult a range of people from homosexuals to fornicators and drunks.
After initially opting not to comment on Folau’s latest attack, RA released a statement late on Wednesday night condemning the devout Christian.
“Rugby Australia is aware of a post made by Israel Folau on his Instagram account this afternoon,” the governing body said.
“The content within the post is unacceptable. It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the rugby community.
“The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit has been engaged on the matter tonight.”
Folau had already tested the patience of RA boss Raelene Castle with a series of homophobic posts last year, most notably one that said “God’s plan for gay people was “HELL”.
The three-times John Eales medallist was warned but not sanctioned by Castle after defiantly threatening to walk away from the game if his strong Christian beliefs were compromised.
Folau – who turned 30 last week before becoming Super Rugby’s all-time leading try scorer on Saturday after bagging his 60th five-pointer for the NSW Waratahs – had since been largely quiet on social media until Wednesday.
Folau posted a meme that read: “WARNING Drunks Homosexuals Adulterers Liars Fornicators Thieves Atheists Idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU. REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES” before adding a Bible verse from Galatians.
He went on to add: “Those who are living in sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him”.
Folau also took to Twitter to push another issue.
The backline ace retweeted a story headlined “Tasmania becomes first Australian jurisdiction to make gender optional on birth certificates” with the comment: “The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free.”
It is barely two months ago that Folau signed a new multimillion-dollar contract extension to remain with the NSW Waratahs until the end of 2022.
It is not known if the deal with the Waratahs and Rugby Australia, which strongly promotes inclusion, has a clause restricting Folau from making provocative social media posts.
The latest episode in the saga is the last thing Wallabies coach Michael Cheika needs from his premier back in a World Cup year.
On top of that, having RA tear up Folau’s contract five months out from the global showpiece and leaving the Wallabies with the grim prospect of being without their two best players in Japan would leave Cheika’s plans in tatters.
But that’s now a real possibility after the Wallabies’ biggest sponsors, Qantas and Asics, threatened to walk away last year before Folau was first hauled over the coals.
Watch the Heineken Champions Cup Final live on RugbyPass throughout Asia and Australia.