Israel Folau reportedly rejected a settlement deal to end his Rugby Australia contract. The hearing entered a second day on Sunday and was not concluded, meaning it will drag into Tuesday.
His high-stakes code of conduct hearing over homophobic comments, but members of his church congregation defended the Aussie, describing him as a loving person.
The devoutly religious fullback instead opted to fight a decision by the governing body to terminate his multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal after he posted on social media that “hell awaits” gay people, following a similar tirade last year.
Australian media reported that he was being offered AUS$ 1
million, in a bid to avoid the tribunal which many have predicted could drag
on, costing much more.
Folau, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, and Rugby Australia
chief Raelene Castle all gave “oral evidence” to the hearing on
Saturday, which has spilled into Sunday with a final outcome not expected until
later in the week.
Folau’s church congregation defends him
Speaking to Australia’s 10 News First, family members and friends said that the rugby player does not care about the judgement in this world, but about being judged by God.
They described Folau as a “kind” and
“loving” person. They believe that his message was not posted out of
malice and does not equal hate speech.
The row has threatened to the split the Australian dressing room ahead of the World Cup. According to reports, some players said they would make themselves “unavailable for selection” should Folau return.
Coach Cheika vowed not to pick Folau again after his
Other players, however, have reportedly been angered because
they feel their religion is under attack.
Reds and Wallabies hooker Taniela Tupou took to Facebook to
express his support for the under-fire star. He wrote:
“Seriously ?????????? Might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs ??????,” Tupou posted late on Tuesday night. “I will never apologise for my faith and what i believe in, religion had nothing to do with rugby anyways ???????? #TYJ”
It’s not clear when is a verdict is expected.