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Rugby Australia accepts Israel Folau meant no harm with anti-gay remark





  • Israel Folau caused huge controversy when he wrote on Instagram that gay people would be condemned to 'hell' if they failed to 'repent'
  • In a column on Monday, Folau explained his rationale for making the remarks 
  • Rugby Australia have now confirmed he will face no sanction for the comments
  • 'In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally'

By Reuters Reporters

Published: 05:52 EDT, 17 April 2018 | Updated: 06:11 EDT, 17 April 2018

Rugby Australia (RA) said on Tuesday they had accepted Israel Folau's position that he did not mean to harm the game with his anti-gay remarks posted on social media earlier this month and confirmed that he would face no sanction.

Folau, who is an Evangelical Christian, created a firestorm of controversy in Australia, and in rugby circles, after he wrote on his Instagram page that gays would be condemned to 'hell' if they failed to 'repent'.

His comments were described as 'very disappointing' by Qantas airlines, a major sponsor of Rugby Australia, while international referee Nigel Owens, who came out as gay in 2007, said such comments could contribute to young people taking their own lives.

Israel Folau said this month that gay people would go to hell 'unless they repent their sins'.
Israel Folau said this month that gay people would go to hell 'unless they repent their sins'.

Israel Folau said this month that gay people would go to hell 'unless they repent their sins'.

Folau appeared to respond to a comment on Instagram saying gay people are sent to hell
Folau appeared to respond to a comment on Instagram saying gay people are sent to hell

Folau appeared to respond to a comment on Instagram saying gay people are sent to hell

In a column on Monday, Folau explained his rationale for making the remarks and said he had offered to walk away from the sport if RA found itself in an untenable position with sponsors and fans.

RA Chief Executive Raelene Castle, who met with Folau last week to discuss the issue, issued a statement on Tuesday saying the player would not face any sanction from her organisation.

'In his article, Israel clearly articulated his religious beliefs and why his faith is important to him and has provided context behind his social media comment,' Castle said.

'In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game. We accept Israel's position.'

Folau tweeted last year that he would not support gay marriage in a national referendum
Folau tweeted last year that he would not support gay marriage in a national referendum

Folau tweeted last year that he would not support gay marriage in a national referendum

He appeared alongside Wallabies team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper (left) on the cover of LGBTI magazine Star Observer back in 2014
He appeared alongside Wallabies team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper (left) on the cover of LGBTI magazine Star Observer back in 2014

He appeared alongside Wallabies team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper (left) on the cover of LGBTI magazine Star Observer back in 2014

One of the nation's top players and most marketable athletes, Folau's contract expires at the end of the season and RA are keen to extend it beyond next year's World Cup in Japan.

His New South Wales Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said Folau was free to express his views and that team unity had not been affected.

'We may not all agree with his belief but we support him as a team mate and his right to express that freely,' Gibson told reporters.

'I've always said everyone is free to have a range of diverse opinion. That's the beauty of being a team - we're not all going to agree on the same thing.'

The Super Rugby side take on South Africa's Lions in Sydney on Friday.

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