Israel Folau's posts met with widespread condemnation

Radio Sport ,
Publish Date
Thursday, 11 April 2019, 7:11PM

Israel Folau has copped a barrage of criticism after the Wallabies star doubled down on his anti-gay stance with a controversial Instagram post last night.

The 30-year-old was slammed for calling on "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" to repent for their sins or else "hell awaits" them.

In a caption, Folau added: "Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him."

Wallabies players Samu Kerevi and Allan Alaalatoa have liked Folau's post.

Folau has a history of making controversial, homophobic comments and his latest effort sparked a passionate backlash as Rugby Australia said its integrity unit will launch an investigation.

Major Wallabies sponsor Qantas, who threatened to pull its sponsorship last year following a series of provocative posts from Folau, hit out over the Waratahs flyer's post.

"These comments are really disappointing and clearly don't reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support," a Qantas statement to AAP said.

"We are pleased to see Rugby Australia's condemnation of the comments and will await the outcome of their review."

Former Wallaby Jeremy Paul understands Folau has certain beliefs, but can't comprehend why he feels the need to express them in this matter on social media.

"You can't bring the game into disrepute," Paul said on Fox Sports program Bill & Boz. "You can't … go out and do stupid things on social media.

"I just want to ask the question, what do you want to get out of it? We all know Israel, what his beliefs are and we all understand he's very religious but I just don't understand (why he needs to post this content).

"What do you get out of it?

"I know he's a lovely guy but I just ask the question why?"

In a statement, Rugby Australia condemned Folau's latest comments as "unacceptable" and "disrespectful", saying the content of his Instagram post "does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the rugby community".

Folau was widely criticised on social media for his 'disgraceful' comments.

But there's more than just an argument about religion and lifestyle at stake with Folau's scandal. His Wallabies career is now uncertain just five months out from the Rugby World Cup.

Folau had already tested the patience of RA boss Raelene Castle with a series of homophobic posts last year, most notably one that said "God's plan" for gay people was "HELL".

The three-times John Eales medallist was warned but not sanctioned by Castle after defiantly threatening to walk away from the game if his strong Christian beliefs were compromised.

It is barely two months since Folau signed a new multimillion-dollar contract extension to remain with the NSW Waratahs until the end of 2022. It was not specified if the deal with the Waratahs and Rugby Australia, which strongly promotes inclusion, has a clause restricting Folau from making provocative social media posts, but earlier this year the Sydney Morning Herald reported there were "beefed up social media protocols" Folau would need to adhere to.

If he's found to have breached his contract, there's a chance Folau could be sacked.

The latest episode in the saga is the last thing Wallabies coach Michael Cheika needs from his premier back in a World Cup year. Champion flanker David Pocock is already under a huge World Cup fitness cloud having played minimal Super Rugby this year as he battles a career-threatening neck injury.

On top of that, having RA tear up Folau's contract five months out from the global showpiece and leaving the Wallabies with the grim prospect of being without their two best players in Japan would leave Cheika's plans in tatters.

But that's now a real possibility after the Wallabies' biggest sponsors, Qantas and Asics, threatened to walk away last year before Folau was first hauled over the coals.