Israel Folau Booted By Rugby Australia Over Homophobic Statements
Rugby Australia has said it intends to terminate Israel Folau's contract over his repeated homophobic statements.
In a statement released on Thursday night, RA CEO Raelene Castle and NSW Rugby Union CEO Andrew Hore said neither organisation have been able to contact the fullback since 6:30pm on Wednesday.
"In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract," the statement said.
Rugby Australia said Folau did not "speak for the game".
"Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport," it said.
"Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality.
"As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action."
10 News First understands after similar comments Folau made in 2018, Rugby Australia included in his contract a clause about his social media posts.
Some believe Wednesday's outburst was a signal the soon-to-be-former Wallaby wanted out.
"Is there another contract in Japan, in France or somewhere that he wants to go?" columnist and former Australian rugby player Peter FitzSimons told 10 News First.
"I don't know, but he's not an idiot, he must know that putting out a tweet like that was pretty close to a resignation letter."
Folau came under fire on Wednesday for two new social media posts which took aim at the LGBTQ community and Tasmania's recent decision to make the inclusion of gender optional on birth certificates.
He uploaded to Instagram 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.
The fullback 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 give his two cents on Tasmania's landmark legislation -- passed earlier that day -- which will make gender optional on birth certificates. The changes will also remove the requirement for transgender people to have sexual reassignment surgery in order to have a new gender recognised.
Alongside a screenshot of a headline on the news, Folau added: "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."
Folau -- who only last Saturday became Super Rugby's all-time leading try scorer -- made similar comments this time last year.
In April, he said he was prepared to walk away from rugby alltogether instead of back down on his Christian beliefs after his employer was forced to address anti-gay comments their star player made on social media.
Folau said gay people were headed to hell “unless they repent for their sins and turn to God” on an Instagram post depicting "God's plan".
At the time, major sponsors of Rugby Australia ASICS, Qantas and Land Rover raised concerns about Folau's comments, saying they conflict with their policies of inclusiveness.
Qantas has reiterated its concerns this time around.
Folau is just two months into a new contract extension with the NSW Waratahs and was expected to be an important fixture in the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan.
On Thursday afternoon, the controversy reached Japanese shores as the country's rugby captain and legend Michael Leitch hit out at Folau on social media.
"Israel Folau, I'm calling you out," he said in an Instagram video.
"I thought your first comment regarding gays going to hell was outrageous but this latest post is...this is out the gate and I think it's so wrong on so many levels."
Leitch said while he respects Folau's religion, he condemns the use of social media to "preach" his views on platforms which reach such a wide variety of people.
Given Leitch's response, it would appear Japan may no longer be a career option for the outgoing Wallaby.