Folau, who is under fire for condemning all gays to “hell” unless they repent for their “sins”, has instead reached out to fellow rugby players, particularly those of Pasifika heritage, in search of support for both him and his religious views.
The 30-year-old was told that if he took down his divisive Instagram post, which also claimed that ‘drunks, idolators and adulterers’ and others would join homosexuals in “hell”, it would be viewed as remorseful, according to The Daily Telegraph.
It is believed such an admission of his remorse would have reduced his code of conduct breach to a low or mid-range breach.
However, Folau has been issued with a high-level breach, which is serious enough for Rugby Australia to warrant a termination of his contract, while the post remains on his Instagram account, which has 354,000 followers.
View this post on Instagram
Those that 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. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19?-?21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 17:30 KJV _______________
Throughout the three-day hearing, Folau was given multiple opportunities to state that he would prevent future comments that targeted the gay community, but he insisted that he would ‘not change’ and would continue to share his religious beliefs on social media.
Some players have come out both in support and against Folau’s sentiments since he published the post in April.
Wallabies and Reds prop Taniela Tupou shared a post on Facebook showing his support for Super Rugby and international teammate Samu Kerevi, who felt obliged to apologise after quoting the bible and thanking Jesus in an Instagram post of his own.
In the now-deleted post, Tupou said that Rugby Australia “might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs. I will never apologise for my faith and what I believe in, religion had [sic] got nothing to do with rugby anyways #TYJ”.
Elsewhere, many players and significant figures within the rugby fraternity have condemned Folau’s sentiments, with players and ex-players such as Gareth Thomas, James Haskell, Joe Marler, TJ Perenara, Brad Weber, Nehe Milner-Skudder and, more recently, Clyde Rathbone all taking aim at the 73-test star.
Following his guilty verdict, the best punishment Folau can now hope for is a suspension and/or a fine.
If he is to be sacked, however, he will be the first Australian athlete to be dismissed for his religious beliefs.
Should that be the case, he would not receive a payout after he declined a $1 million settlement agreement with Rugby Australia to walk away from his contract.
Both Folau and Rugby Australia will give written submissions to the panel before the sanction is handed down, while Folau also has 72 hours to lodge an appeal, a matter of which would be heard by an all-new panel.
The current panel’s decision of finding Folau guilty of a high-level breach may not be finalised for several days, with no timeline established on when that will occur.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.