After almost two months have passed since Israel Folau took to social media to voice his opinion against homosexuals and other sinners, Rugby Australia have terminated their employment with one of their most valuable players. This coming only a week after Folau became Super Rugby’s all time try scorer.
This morning ARU CEO, Raelene Castle announced the termination in a press conference where she stated that “In rugby, there is not a place for someone that puts their views or position in front of everyone else’s. That is true of every employee that we have at Rugby Australia.”
On the 8th of May a three man tribunal was convened to hear evidence from both parties in relation to the players social media conduct. Considering that this was the player’s second breach of a similar nature, that he had refused to take the post down and furthermore refused to refrain from posting such comments in the future a decision had to be made. The tribunal found that the matter warranted a high-level breach of the RA’s code of conduct as well as various clauses of the player’s contract in relation to the appropriate use of social media. On this basis it was recommended that the appropriate sanction be a termination. The tribunal consisted of John West, QC, Kate Eastman and John Boultbee and was well equipped to deal with the matter.
Rugby Australia then deliberated on the findings of the tribunal and their recommendations for redress, which bring us to the present moment. RA has decided to implement the recommendations and Israel Folau’s contract with both Rugby Australia and the Waratahs is terminated with immediate effect.
Whilst RA will be hoping this puts the matter to bed and that they can move forward to their World Cup preparations, it could still drag on. Folau has now got 72 hours to respond and appeal the termination. Should he fail to appeal then the decision remains final. Outside of the disciplinary procedures of Australian Rugby, Folau could also launch a Supreme Court challenge. Such a challenge might be based on his right to freedom of expression and wrongful termination.
The player is yet to comment.
Should Folau accept his fate however, there has yet to be any indication of the player heading off shore to a more lucrative playing contract, bearing in mind he has now lost the $ 4 million contract he had in place. The player’s future hangs in the balance now, but one thing is for certain, we won’t be seeing Israel Folau in Japan later this year.
Written by: Nicholas Halsey
Image credit: FoxSports, RTA.