Israel Folau has broken his silence a day after being found to have committed a high level contract breach at his Rugby Australia code of conduct hearing.
Former Wallabies coach turned broadcaster Alan Jones today said that Folau had said to him, “Alan, I’m at peace, mate. My head is held high.”
“The battle has just begun, and it’s a battle for all Australians,” Jones said.
“If we’re not free to articulate our religious beliefs and quote from the bible, and if we’re not free to speak for fear that someone affects a hurt or is part of the offence industry, if that’s where we’ve reached in this country, we’ve reached a dark place and we are all at risk.”
Folau’s code of conduct hearing, originally scheduled to be finalised on the weekend, extended to a further day of proceedings on Tuesday, culminating in the three person independent panel finding that Folau had committed a high level breach of contract.
A high level breach was the finding Rugby Australia needed to be able to end Folau’s $4 million contract.
With no timeline for the announcement of sanctions or a punishment for the breach, it could be days before Folau’s fate is ultimately decided.
Both Folau’s camp and Rugby Australia will now provide the panel with written submissions regarding potential punishment over the breach, which related to a part of Folau’s contract instituted following his anti-LGBTI social media posts in 2018.
The renewed scandal, in which Folau posted on social media that “hell awaits” homosexuals and that legal reforms for trans and gender diverse people were a sign of “evil ways”, has created significant controversy within the sport.
Openly gay former NRL player Ian Roberts this week spoke out about the effect comments like Folau’s could have, saying that “there are literally kids in the suburbs killing themselves.”
“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.
“These type of remarks…they can and do push people over the edge.”
Jones said that “at one point [Folau] just threw his hands gently up in the air and he said, ‘Alan, I don’t know what this is about. What am I supposed to have done here’?”
Folau is reportedly committed to fighting the outcome every step of the way, including the possibility of taking the matter to the High Court.