The announcement from Rugby Australia that they intend to cancel Folau’s contract has been met with general content and has got the rugby world talking. The interest in the situation has gone beyond only the sporting world, with condemnation coming from Australian airline company Qantas and even New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Qantas are the long term main sponsor of Australian Rugby and they have welcomed the reaction of Rugby Australia. In a statement they stated “These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support. We are pleased to see Rugby Australia’s condemnation of the comments and will await the outcome of their review.” It is almost certain that Qantas would have been involved in the decision to cancel the contract of Folau.
Kiwi Prime Minister Ardern was also asked to comment on Folau, who is married to New Zealand netball player Maria Folau. “Obviously on a personal level I clearly don’t agree with what he said. I am very mindful of the fact that for many, he is a role model. He is a person in a position of influence and I think with that comes responsibility,” she said today.
There has also been a lot of reaction from people within the game most notably from openly gay Welsh legend Gareth Thomas who insists that Folau’s viewpoint is wrong and that people should be themselves despite what others may think. Below are some of the posts on social media in response to Folau’s post.
I don’t write this with hate or anger after Israel Folau’s comments.I write with sympathy. To everyone who reads it, don’t be influenced by his words. Be the better person and be YOU. Whoever YOU is..Hell doesn’t await YOU.Happiness awaits YOU.
James Haskell was his usual honest self in his response tweeting, “This is the biggest load of s**t I have ever read. Sport has no place for this crap. Keep it to hate groups @IzzyFolau, you aren’t spreading the Lords word. You are spreading hate. You are an unreal player, but a f***ing misinformed bigot.”
This is how former England out half Andy Goode responded, questioning whether Folau himself has never been guilty of any of the traits in the picture.
It was perhaps Joe Marler who responded in the best manner without the use of any words just a picture of two men kissing with Folau tagged.
It is comforting that the general consensus within the game and society is one of integration regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation and that the draconian views of Israel Folau are not welcome in rugby or indeed society.
Written by Stefan Hamilton