Israel Folau has under 24 hours left to respond to Rugby Australia’s code of conduct breach notice after CEO Raelene Castle said he “expressed no remorse” for his anti-LGBTI social media activity.
The notice came as Wallabies coach Michael Cheika called Folau’s comments “disrespectful” and all but ruled him out of selection for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
If he refuses, the matter will be referred to a code of conduct hearing, the ABC reported.
Castle said Folau “was unapologetic for his posts and his position and that left us with no option but to move forward” to yesterday’s notice.
Folau met with Rugby Australia last week over his posts, which declared that “hell awaits” gay people and that Tasmania’s new trans and gender diverse-inclusive laws are a sign that people should “repent and turn away from your evil ways”.
Folau insisted he had “absolutely not” reconsidered the weight of his comments, and said he would “stand on what the Bible says.”
“I share it with love. I can see the other side of the coin where people’s reactions are the total opposite to how I’m sharing it,” he said.
“But in Ezekiel, chapter 33, verse 11, it says that ‘God has no pleasure in the person that’s living in sin’ … He’s a loving God and he wants people to turn away from what they’re living in and he’ll give them life.
“That’s the message that I’m trying to share, even though it comes across as harsh. I can’t change what the word of God says.”
Castle said that Folau had “committed a high-level breach” of the professional code of conduct he had agreed to uphold.
“At its core, this is an issue of the responsibilities an employee owes to their employer and the commitments they make to their employer to abide by their employer’s policies and procedures and adhere to their employer’s values,” Castle said.
“Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and New South Wales Waratahs with regards to social media use, and he has failed to meet those obligations.
“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.
“All professional rugby players in Australia are bound by the code of conduct and there is a process in place for any disciplinary matter.
“We appreciate that this particular matter will attract significant interest, but due process must be followed.”
Castle said that she had a “very direct and specific conversation with him about the expectations that I had” following Folau’s similar posts in 2018, and that “he accepted that conversation.”
“He said that he understood that conversation. He shook my hand at the end of that conversation and said he was very clear of it and yet he has gone off and done what he’s done.”
Cheika said he had a similar conversation with the embattled rugby star last year, thinking that the controversy would not repeat.
But Cheika said he hasn’t had the chance to discuss the new posts with Folau.
“I’m sure I will in the future at some stage when it settles down for him a little bit. I made the calls and left the messages. There’s no beef.”
Rugby Australia chose not to sanction Folau over his 2018 comment, but in doing so this time they have left the fate of Folau’s career in his hands.