SYDNEY (AFP) – Former Wallabies star Israel Folau offered a public apology over his anti-gay social media posts and agreed to allow Rugby Australia to review future posts before uploading them, court documents show.
The devoutly Christian fullback was fired in May for posting on Instagram that “hell awaits” gay people and others he considers sinners.
Folau, 30, is pursuing legal action against Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby, claiming he was unlawfully dismissed under legislation that disallows sackings because of a person’s religion.
The Super Rugby record try-scorer had been on a US$690,000, four-year deal.
In court documents made public yesterday, Folau’s lawyers said he offered a series of concessions to Rugby Australia for what they called a “low-level” breach of the governing body’s code of conduct.
These included paying a fine to Rugby Australia, serving a four-week suspension, and “submitting to mentoring sessions about how he could practice his faith publicly and how he could best articulate his religious views and beliefs on social media”.
The filing said Folau had told a tribunal hearing to consider his future that at least 15 teammates and members of coaching staff had “provided him with messages of support” or urged him to return to the game, something he “had a great desire to do”.
Folau also claimed that Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle had told him last year that the organisation “would never ask or expect him to act in a manner or way that is contrary to his beliefs”.
In a previous court submission, Rugby Australia also said Folau conceded that his social media posts had breached Rugby Australia’s code of conduct and offered to apologise.
The high-profile rugby player argued in an earlier statement of claim that his dismissal over anti-gay comments was “an unreasonable restraint of trade” because it stopped him playing the sport.
Folau is reportedly seeking Aus$10 million, including for lost sponsorship and marketing opportunities.
The case is due to go to mediation in December.