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'You can’t be punished for the rest of your life': Hansen on Folau future

By PA
Israel Folau/ PA

World XV coach Steve Hansen insisted Israel Folau should be able to move on from the anti-gay views that resulted in Rugby Australia terminating his contract.

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Folau scored a try but was booed throughout Sunday’s 48-42 loss to the Barbarians by a group of around 100 banner-waving LGBTQ+ protesters, while the Rugby Football Union raised the pride flag on the roof of Twickenham.

The devout Christian was sacked by RA in 2019 for publishing a series of discriminatory posts on social media, including one telling “homosexuals” that “hell awaits you”.

He has switched national allegiance to Tonga ahead of this autumn’s World Cup and Hansen, who was wearing a pride wristband, said a line should be drawn under the episode.

“Everyone is allowed an opinion. We don’t necessarily have to agree with each other on our opinions but you are entitled to have one,” Hansen said.

“You can’t be punished for the rest of your life for having an opinion that most of us disagree with.

“I’ve always been a great believer that you can’t help somebody change by leaving them on the outside.”

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A 32,597 crowd enjoyed a 14-try thriller as stars such as Charles Piutau, Semi Radradra and Sbu Nkosi caught the eye in glorious conditions.

It provided Barbarians coach Eddie Jones with a triumphant return in his first appearance at Twickenham since being sacked by England in December.

In previous years he coached against the Barbarians and he urged the RFU to be careful over how its traditional annual fixture against the Red Rose is marketed in the future.

“I can speak as a former England coach. I don’t think England should play the Barbarians, unless it’s a younger England team,” Jones said.

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“At this time of the season you can never pick the England team, so it shouldn’t be called England. It should be called England President’s XV or something like that.

“Playing against the Barbarians is a great idea but to try and sell it as England is not honest. It’s not honest.”

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Jon 2 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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