Israel Folau Guilty Of High Level Rugby Australia Code Of Conduct Breach
Israel Folau has been found guilty of a high level breach of Rugby Australia's code of conduct, a three-person panel has found.
Folau's lawyers debated for almost 22 hours over three days with the governing body's legal team after RA boss Raelene Castle issued the Wallabies star a "high level" breach notice last month following his controversial social media posts.
"The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction," a statement from Rugby Australia said.
"A further update will be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction."
Folau's four-year, $4 million contract may now be terminated. Had the panel deemed his breach anything less than "high level", the governing body would not have the power to boot him.
Other sanctions Folau faces -- if he is spared being sacked -- includes suspension and fines.
Rugby Australia issued Folau with a breach notice last month following his Instagram post claiming gay people they would "end up in hell".
Castle said Folau was warned "formally and repeatedly" about the expectations on him as a player, following similar incidences last year.
"It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action," Castle said.
Folau did not follow that direction.
At the time, Castle and NSW Rugby Union CEO Andrew Hore issued a joint statement condemning his views, making it clear 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," they said.
His comments -- although defended by friends and family -- have been met with dismay by major sponsors Qantas and Land Rover, as well as the wider community.
That includes former Rugby great Ian Roberts, who said comments like Folau's can "push people over the edge".
"There are literally [gay] kids in the suburbs killing themselves," he told Channel Nine last week.
"I say that with the greatest sense of respect, and I'm not implying that Israel's responsible solely for that, please don't take it that way.
"But it's these types of comments and these off-the-cuff remarks, when you have young people and vulnerable people, kids in the suburbs, who are dealing with their sexuality."
Folau has the right of appeal. His sanction is not expected to be handed down for several days.
To speak to someone about mental health or sexuality, speak to QLife on 1800 184 527 or chat online. If you are in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.