Documents filed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne suggest that Israel Folau has little chance of winning his case against Rugby Australia as they show that Folau had already acknowledged that his social media posts contravened his contract in 2018 and had promised not to do it again.
Rugby Australia’s grounds for dismissal filing states that Folau was “the highest paid, and one of the highest profile, players in Australia.”
“He was, and his contract required that he was, an ambassador for the game of rugby in Australia.”
Rugby Australia notes that a year before the incident that triggered his sacking, Folau had already been censured over another similar social media post, which at that time he had acknowledged had breached Rugby Australia’s players’ Code of Conduct and had promised not to do it again.
“Mr Folau, on 10 April 2019, published two posts on social media which conveyed the message that transgender persons and homosexual persons, respectively, would go to Hell unless they repented of their sins (their sins being that they were transgender or homosexual, respectively),” the document states.
“The posts attracted widespread negative media coverage and prompted concerns from sponsors, broadcasters and other key stakeholders of Rugby Australia, who felt that the posts did not reflect theirs or Rugby Australia’s values.”
“The posts were a particularly egregious breach of trust by Mr Folau, given that they followed a similar social media post, made on 4 April 2018, which prompted a similar outcry, and following which Mr Folau gave repeated assurances to Rugby Australia and the second respondent (Rugby NSW) that he was aware of the impact which the post had had on Rugby Australia, Rugby NSW, their sponsors and his teammates, and that a similar incident would not happen again.”
“[Rugby Australia’s] Code of Conduct prohibited, among other things, professional players making social media posts that would likely be detrimental to the best interests, image and welfare of the game of rugby, Rugby Australia or Rugby NSW, or bring into disrepute, discredit or censure any player, the game of rugby, Rugby Australia or Rugby NSW.”
“Mr Folau conceded [in 2018] that his posts had breached the Code of Conduct, conceded that the posts had the potential to cause damage to Rugby Australia’s relationship with sponsors, and conceded that he knew, at the time of posting, that transgender and homosexual persons may have been offended by the posts.”
“Remarkably, despite his concession before the Tribunal that he had breached the Code of Conduct, Mr Folau now seeks to argue that his posts did not breach the Code of Conduct.”
On this basis, Rugby Australia is seeking for the Federal Circuit Court to dismiss Folau’s case.