Folau will not appeal against sacking- Rugby Australia


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - England v Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 24, 2018 ...
Australia's Israel Folau scores their second try Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

In Summary

  • Folau had not appealed the termination of his contract over a social media post before Monday’s deadline so his sacking will now go ahead, Rugby Australia said in a statement.
  • RA gave Folau 72 hours to appeal the decision but said the player had now effectively waived his right to another hearing.

Israel Folau had not appealed the termination of his contract over a social media post before Monday’s deadline so his sacking will now go ahead, Rugby Australia said in a statement.

The Wallabies fullback was fired on Friday for a “high level” breach of RA’s code of conduct after posting on social media that hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others.

RA gave Folau 72 hours to appeal the decision but said the player had now effectively waived his right to another hearing.

“As Folau has not notified the panel of his intention to appeal, the Code of Conduct process has now formally concluded,” the RA statement said.

“With the Code of Conduct matter complete, Folau’s employment contract will be terminated.”

Attention will turn to whether Folau intends to challenge the decision in court, having been sacked only months into a new, four-year contract worth A$4 million (2 million pounds) according to reports.

The 73-test Wallaby has remained silent on his case since a brief statement on Friday in response to a panel decision that endorsed his termination.

Folau said he was considering his options and gave thanks to those who “do not share my beliefs but have defended my right to express them”.

The saga has already hit the 30-year-old hard in the pocket, costing him a lucrative endorsement contract with sportswear brand Asics, as well as legal fees.

However, the cash-strapped RA can also ill-afford a protracted court challenge.

They already face a multi-million dollar deficit in 2019 due to a loss of sponsorship and gate revenue from forgone home tests in a Rugby World Cup year, and local media believe further litigation would effectively bankrupt the game.

In the short term, Michael Cheika’s Wallabies will also be worse off for the lack of one of the side’s few world class players when the team competes at the World Cup in Japan.

The decision also raised fears that it could drive a wedge through a team which features a number of players who share Folau’s Pacific islands heritage and his Christian beliefs.

RA’s fight with Folau has travelled well beyond the rugby pitch, however, becoming a touchstone for concerns by some in Australia that freedom of speech is being eroded.

It was also a minor theme in the political campaigns that concluded in Saturday’s national election, with conservative Christians angered over what they saw as a player quoting scripture, rather than vilification.

 

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