Former Wallaby Israel Folau has settled his legal dispute with Rugby Australia (RA).
The 30-year-old was after $14 million in damages for wrongful termination after RA sacked him for a code of conduct breach when he said on Instagram “hell awaits” gay people.
RA was determined to hold its ground and a marathon mediation session on Monday failed to yield a result.
However, on Wednesday afternoon, Folau and RA released a joint statement saying they had reached an agreement, settling for a confidential amount.
“Rugby Australia, NSW Rugby and Israel Folau have today settled their legal dispute following the dismissal of Israel Folau after he posted a religious message on social media,” the statement read.
“The Social Media Post reflected Mr Folau’s genuinely held religious beliefs, and Mr Folau did not intend to harm or offend any person when he uploaded the Social Media Post.
“Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.
“Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby do not in any way agree with the content of the Social Media Post. Inclusiveness is one of Rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community.
“While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus. Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.
Rugby Australia and Mr Folau wish each other well for the future. The Parties do not intend to comment further on the terms of their settlement as it is confidential.”
Last week Folau lodged an updated statement of claim in the Federal Circuit Court, upping his pursuit of damamges from $10 million to $14 million.
Folau justified the $4 million increase in part by saying he was in line to captain the Wallabies, which would have boosted his income. But that assertion was rubbished by former teammate David Pocock.
“I think Michael Hooper has been doing a great job and he’s contracted to the next World Cup so I’m not sure where Izzy’s getting that from,” Pocock said on Fox Sports News last week.
“My view has been that sport is at its best when it’s challenging society to be more inclusive.
“I think we can play such an important role in trying to instil values of fairness and inclusivity into kids coming through.
“I found it incredibly disappointing the way he’s used his platform around this.”
In his updated statement, which some speculated was a legal ploy to pressure RA into settling for more money, Folau said his contract termination will cost him $4.2 million from 2019-2022, as well as $300,000 in match payments from 2019-2021 and an additional $150,000 in match payments in 2022.
He also claimed he stood to make up to $1.5 million a season for one or two years with Rugby Australia and a Super Rugby club after 2022.
Folau suggested he would have earned up to $1.5 million a year for two-to-three years had he chosen to play overseas after his international career ended.
Estimates provided over lost sponsorship dollars and the missed revenue that comes with competing at World Cups and possibly captaining the national team were also used to justify the controversial star’s $14 million demand.