Shamed Australia star Israel Folau sets up GoFundMe page for legal battle after termination

20 Jun

Israel Folau has set up a GoFundMe page in order to collect donations for his legal battle with Rugby Australia.

The Waratahs full-back wants to raise around $3million (£1.6m) after his contract was terminated for homophobic social media posts.

Isreal Folau wants to raise money for his impending legal battle
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Earlier this month, Folau filed an application to the Australian Fair Work Commission, seeking a declaration that his employment was unlawfully terminated because of his religious beliefs.

Folau, one of Australia’s best-paid rugby stars, is seeking a pay-out of his contract, that had three years remaining on it, along with any other financial damages.

The full-back claims to have already spent $100,000 of his own money to fight RA’s internal tribunal but has insisted he’ll take the matter all the way to the High Court of Australia.

He wrote on the page: “I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW.

The 30-year-old leaving his Rugby Australia Code of Conduct hearing in May
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“In response, Rugby Australia have already said that they will ‘divert significant resources’ to fight me in court.  Even if I win, Rugby Australia can appeal. There is every chance that a prominent test case like this could take years and eventually end up in the High Court of Australia.

“My wife Maria and I have already spent over $100,000 of our own money, and that was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes.

“The money I am asking for is solely to fund the rest of my action in court.”

The 30-year-old had previously been found to have committed a ‘high-level breach’ of the code of conduct over the posts he made in April.

Folau, a devout Christian who has played 62 Tests for Australia, said on his Instagram account that ‘hell awaits’ for ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators’ in a post that remains visible.

He had previously been warned about making homophobic comments on social media in 2018, but did not face disciplinary action at the time.

Israel Folau sacked by rugby Australia for Instagram post

17 May

Israel Folau has been sacked by Rugby Australia for homophobic social media posts.

The 30-year-old had previously been found to have committed a ‘high-level breach’ of the code of conduct over the posts he made in April.

Folau, a devout Christian who has played 62 Tests for Australia, said on his Instagram account that ‘hell awaits’ for ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators’ in a post that remains visible.

View this post on Instagram

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. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 17:30 KJV _______________

A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau) on

He had previously been warned about making homophobic comments on social media in 2018, but did not face disciplinary action at the time.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told a press conference: “We are here to announce that Wallabies and Waratahs player Israel Folau has today been issued a sanction directing termination of his playing contract for his high-level breach of the professional players’ code of conduct.

“The three-member panel of John West QC chair, Kate Eastman and John Boultbee, provided its final written decision today in relation to the code of conduct hearing over Folau’s social media post on April 10, 2019.

“While Rugby Australia accepts the panel’s decision directing termination of Israel Folau’s contract for his high-level breach of the code of conduct, we want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game.

Folau has played 62 Tests for Australia and scored 162 points
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“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in the situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue the course of action resulting in today’s outcome.

“This has been an extremely challenging period for rugby. This issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.

“But our clear message for all rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.”

Castle said she had been in touch with players to “make it clear that Rugby Australia fully supports their right to their own beliefs, and nothing that has happened changes that.


Billy Vunipola formally warned by Saracens for defending Israel Folau’s comments

Nigel Owens: ‘My attitude towards Israel Folau and Billy Vunipola as a referee will not change’


“But when we’re talking about inclusiveness in our game, we’re talking abut respecting differences as well. When we say rugby is a game for all, we mean it.

“People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion or sexuality.

“Israel is a great rugby player and we are disappointed and saddened by the fact that he will not see out his four-year contract and commitment to the Wallabies and also with the Waratahs.”

Folau has the option to lodge an appeal against the sanction.

Israel Folau found guilty of ‘high-level breach’ of code of conduct over homophobic social media posts

7 May

Israel Folau is guilty of committing a ‘high-level’ code of conduct breach in relation to homophobic social media posts he made last month, a Rugby Australia hearing has determined.

The 30-year-old devout Christian wrote on his Instagram account that ‘hell awaits’ for ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators’.

View this post on Instagram

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. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Acts 17:30 KJV _______________

A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau) on

The Wallabies full-back requested a code of conduct hearing after he was issued with a breach notice by Rugby Australia, which would warrant the termination of his employment contract.

The three-day hearing ended with a three-person panel concluding: “Folau committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019”.

A statement from Rugby Australia continued: “The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction.

“A further update will be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction.”

Folau, who has played 62 Tests for Australia since making his debut in 2013, was warned a year ago for making homophobic comments on social media, but escaped disciplinary action.

Having published similarly divisive views once again, however, Rugby Australia announced its intention to sack one of the sport’s most gifted players in a move that would rule him out of the World Cup.

Folau has stood by his view in posts that remain visible and has said he would rather accept the end of his career than issue a retraction.

Rugby Australia confirmed their intention to terminate Folau’s contract

“It’s obviously a decision that’s in the process right now but I believe in a God that’s in control of all things,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald last month.

“Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do.”

Folau has been stood down by the NSW Waratahs and his rugby union career in Australia appears over, while a return to his roots in league has been ruled out by the Australian Rugby League.

The fallout has been felt in the northern hemisphere after England number eight Billy Vunipola offered support for his view on his own Instagram account, resulting in a formal warning from the Rugby Football Union.

Billy Vunipola formally warned by Saracens after defending Israel Folau over homophobic comments

15 Apr

Saracens have formally warned  Billy Vunipola about his future conduct after he made ‘a serious error of judgement’ by defending a homophobic Instagram post by Israel Folau.

The England forward posted a message on Instagram on Friday that includes the line ‘Man was made for woman to procreate that was the goal no?’.

Vunipola was acting in support of Australia full-back and fellow devout Christian Folau, who stated on social media that ‘hell awaits’ for ‘homosexuals’.

Billy Vunipola has been warned about his future conduct by Saracens

Saracens – who held ‘lengthy discussions’ on Sunday with the number eight – said in a statement: “At Saracens, we are one family, open to all with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility.

“We recognise the complexity of different belief systems and understand Billy’s intention was to express the word of God rather than cause offence.

“However, he made a serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion, which is inconsistent with the values of the club and contravenes his contractual obligations. The player has been formally warned about his future conduct.”

Vunipola insisted that his “intention was never to cause suffering” but stopped short of offering an apology in a statement on Saracens’ website.

Israel Folau’s comments drew widespread criticism

He said: “I can see that my recent post has hurt people. My intention was never to cause suffering. My intention was to express my belief in the word of God.

“These beliefs are a source of great strength, comfort and guidance in my life. This is deeply personal and does not represent the views of my team.

“Anyone who knows me, knows I live with kindness and love towards ALL people.

“I have faith. My Christian faith has sustained me through the ups and many downs of my life. God has given and continues to give me many reasons in life to be grateful.”

England 37-18 Australia: Red Rose end 2018 with sixth straight win over Wallabies

24 Nov

England ended 2018 and their autumn Test series on a high with a 37-18 victory over Australia at Twickenham.

It was the Red Rose’s sixth successive victory over the Wallabies, as head coach Eddie Coach got another one over his native side, while Owen Farrell scored 22 points.

England lift the Cook Cup after a sixth straight win over Australia

The old enemies were deadlocked at 13-13 entering half-time but blistering tries from Elliot Daly and Joe Cokanasiga opened up daylight before the win became a rout when Owen Farrell touched down in the closing stages.

Apart from losing their way in the second quarter, England dominated the Cook Cup showdown with man of the match Kyle Sinckler, Jonny May and Cokanasiga outstanding.

Victory was secured against one of the poorest Wallaby teams seen at Twickenham in recent years, the tourists enfeebled by the loss of David Pocock to a neck injury and tumultuous build up due to senior players Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper being disciplined for bringing women back to their hotel rooms.

Among the biggest roars of the afternoon was reserved for Manu Tuilagi, who finally made his first Test appearance for two years as a final-quarter replacement having overcome a groin strain.

Manu Tuilagi finally made his England return

Once again in an eventful autumn, controversy reigned as Farrell escaped punishment for his shoulder charge on Izack Rodda as the galloping Australia lock approached the line on the stroke of half-time.

It was an illegal challenge that could have been punished by a red card but referee Jaco Peyper – who endured a poor afternoon – declared it was shoulder to shoulder despite protests from the Wallabies.

Sir Clive Woodward, speaking in his role as TV pundit, said “England have got away with that one”, claiming a penalty try should have been awarded. Farrell was lucky to avoid censure for a similar hit in the autumn opener against South Africa.

It took just 133 seconds for England to take the lead as Mark Wilson broke from a rapidly advancing scrum and fed Ben Youngs, who took a few steps before supplying May with a simple try.

Australia ran aimlessly at times with only the kicking of Matt Toomua asking any questions and summing up their muddled play was a moment when Scott Sio and Samu Kerevi collided in midfield as they jogged into position.

Toomua scored two penalties and a conversion for the Wallabies

But taking advantage of Genia’s intercept of a pass thrown by Ben Te’o, they made inroads that ended when Dane Haylett-Petty appeared to have crossed despite a forward pas from Kerevi.

Peyper awarded the try immediately and it was only as Toomua was about to take the conversion and the forward pass was replayed on the big screen that the South Africa official called for the TMO’s assistance and the score was ruled out.

Peyper blundered again when he gave only a penalty for Rodda’s tip-tackle on May but at least England were able to take a 13-3 lead with the ensuing penalty by Farrell.

A brilliant line taken by the gliding Israel Folau helped narrow the gap to three points, but he found the hole between Farrell and Maro Itoje too easily amid a general decrease in defensive aggression from Eddie Jones’s men.

Farrell scored 22 points for England

Once a large scuffle had died down early in the second half, England surged back in front with a try out of nothing, Farrell seeming to run out of options until Daly began a perfectly-timed run that saw his raw pace sweep him over the whitewash.

Daylight was opened up when an attack down the left was revived by a weak tackle from Haylett-Petty, who bounced off Cokanasiga to create a gap that the powerful Bath wing sped through to score under the posts.

Cokanasiga almost added a second shortly after, catching a high ball and racing off, side-stepping Toomua before being stopped just short of the line. May then a try disallowed for ball in touch.

The result was sealed when Farrell sped through a vast hole in Australia’s disintegrating defence, but Folau had the final say in injury time.

England v Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper and Kurtley Beale dropped after bringing women back to hotel room

23 Nov

Adam Ashley-Cooper and Kurtley Beale will play no part for Australia against England after boss Michael Cheika dropped the experienced duo for bringing women back to the team hotel last weekend.

The offence was deemed to be a breach of team protocol and meant the backs were not even considered for selection.

Beale and Ashley-Cooper will play no part against England

Just a day before the final Quilter Autumn International, the already incredible scandal gets even more bizarre as it was revealed one of the women was Ashley-Cooper’s sister-in-law.

It is understood the pair brought a group of three women – Ashley-Cooper’s sister-in-law and two of her friends – back to the team hotel in Newport in the hours after the 9-6 defeat against Wales on 10 November in Cardiff.

Although the three women left the hotel by 10:30pm that night, the team’s rules state that no guests are allowed at any time and after senior players including captain Michael Hooper, David Pocock, Allan Alaalatoa, Samu Kervi and Nick Phipps escalated it to Cheika, a decision was taken to ban them from selection for one Test.

With Pocock already unavailable for the crunch game at Twickenham, the Australia boss was made aware of the indiscretion on Monday, when other senior players approached him after deeming their actions unacceptable given it went against their own rules.

Beale ran riot at Twickenham in 2015

He said: “”It’s a relatively minor rule we have and no third parties are involved, it’s just inside our team.

“The leadership group came to me earlier in the week and asked me to deal with it in a way I thought was appropriate and I thought this was the appropriate way.”

Beale has a great record against England, scoring twice in 2010 before helping dump Stuart Lancaster’s side out of the World Cup in 2015.

 

Australia number eight David Pocock withdraws from England clash with neck injury

23 Nov

Australia have been dealt a blow ahead of their Cook Cup clash against England with David Pocock withdrawing from the team because of a neck injury.

Pocock, the number eight, has been nursing the problem all season but it became more severe after taking a blow against Italy last weekend, making his involvement at Twickenham dependent on a fitness test today that he has failed.

Australia have been dealt a blow on the eve on Saturday’s clash

The 30-year-old Brumbies star, an accomplished breakdown specialist, had been identified by England earlier in the week as Australia’s greatest threat.

A replacement has yet to be named by the Wallabies.

Pocock aggravated his injury playing against Italy

Eddie Jones named his England team for Saturday’s clash on Thursday, recalling Manu Tuilagi to the bench as he’s recovered from a groin injury.

Tuilagi is joined among the replacements by Dylan Hartley, who has dropped out the starting line-up to be replaced by Jamie George.

England team vs Australia: Daly; Cokanasiga, Slade, Te’o, May; Farrell, Youngs; Moon, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Lawes, Shields, Underhill, Wilson.

Replacements: Hartley, Hepburn, Williams, Ewels, Hughes, Wigglesworth, Ford, Tuilagi

England rugby news: Manu Tuilagi joins Dylan Hartley on bench for final Autumn International vs Australia after recovering from groin injury

22 Nov

Manu Tuilagi and Dylan Hartley have been named on the bench for England’s final Autumn International against Australia.

Tuilagi is set to make his first appearance of the autumn series when it reaches its climax on Saturday, having missed the opening three games because of a groin strain.

Tuilagi will make just a single appearance in the autumn series

In a surprise selection, the Leicester centre is joined among the replacements by England co-captain Hartley, who loses out to Jamie George in the race to start as hooker.

Whenever England have played top opposition, Hartley has been first choice in the position since Eddie Jones took over at the end of 2015, but is now confined to a bench role.

The 32-year-old started the Tests against South Africa and New Zealand earlier this month, but was demoted for Japan’s visit to Twickenham and was expected to be restored to the starting XV for the climax to the Quilter Internationals.

Jack Nowell was due to be named on the right wing only to be ruled out by what is thought to be a hamstring injury, giving Joe Cokanasiga the chance to win his second cap.

Ben Te’o returns at inside centre as one of nine changes made to the side that laboured to a 35-15 victory over Japan.

The first choice half-back pairing of Owen Farrell and Ben Youngs are reunited, while Jonny May is back on the left wing as England target a sixth successive victory over Australia.

Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje form the second row partnership, Brad Shields features at blindside flanker and Sam Underhill will look to pick up where he left off against New Zealand in the number seven jersey.

England rugby news: Chris Ashton ruled out of final Autumn International against Australia with calf injury

20 Nov

Chris Ashton’s international comeback has stalled after the England wing was ruled out of Saturday’s climax to the autumn series against Australia by a calf problem.

Ashton will be limited to three appearances this month due to the injury sustained in the 35-15 victory over Japan at Twickenham, a scan confirming that he will be sidelined for a fortnight.

The 31-year-old sent for a scan on the injury and was forced to miss training on Tuesday morning.

Ashton became available for England once more when he left Toulon for Sale over the summer and Eddie Jones immediately selected him in his squad for the Quilter Internationals.

When Manu Tuilagi was ruled out of the opener against South Africa because of a groin strain, he was cleared to win his 40th cap and first in over four years.

“Chris Ashton was hurt in the game on Saturday,” forwards coach Steve Borthwick said.

“He’s been scanned and investigated and unfortunately the injury means he will be out for a couple of weeks. He’ll leave camp today (Tuesday).

“Chris is a fantastic player who knows his way to the try-line. He’s been great around the squad the last few weeks. It’s very disappointing he’s out.”

Ashton fell out of favour under Stuart Lancaster and then Jones, whose opportunities to pick the dual code international were restricted by a succession of bans.

Ashton scored a try in England’s slim 16-15 defeat to New Zealand

He made only one appearance for Sale this season due to a seven-week suspension incurred for a tip-tackle before being picked by England.

Jonny May and Jack Nowell are set to be restored to the wings for the first time since the series opener against South Africa, but Bath powerhouse Joe Cokanasiga is a fringe contender to start.

Cokanasiga produced a promising debut against Japan, using his 6’4” and 18 stones frame to good effect to score the decisive try and make a number of dents on the Brave Blossoms line.

However, having just turned 21-years-old the Wallabies might be deemed too big a hurdle to face.

“Joe did really well. He’s got massive potential and is really eager to learn and hungry to learn,” Borthwick said.

“Physically he’s got some great attributes and attitude wise he wants to be the best he can be. He’s a young guy who has a lot of potential.”

Tuilagi is unlikely to be involved on Saturday as he continues his battle for full fitness, but the Leicester centre remains with the squad and has yet to be officially ruled out against Australia.

“Manu trained very hard this morning (Tuesday) and has another session today. He’s working really hard to get as fit as possible, so we’ll keep assessing him,” Borthwick said.

England rugby news: Danny Care dropped from squad for final autumn Test against Australia, Nathan Hughes returns

19 Nov

Danny Care has been dropped from the England team for Saturday’s autumn finale against Australia at Twickenham.

The scrum-half scored the opening try in Saturday’s laboured 35-15 victory over Japan but he, centre Alex Lozowski and number eight Zach Mercer have all been axed to make way for Manu Tuilagi, Piers Francis and Nathan Hughes.

Danny Care scored England’s first try in a 35-15 victory over Japan

Tuilagi has yet to feature this autumn because of injury, but Eddie Jones is hopeful he will be available to face the Wallabies at the weekend.

Number eight Hughes is poised to make his England comeback against Australia after completing a six-week ban for punching and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the game – the latter charge incurred for tweeting “what a joke” at the disciplinary process.

The Fijian-born Wasps forward is likely to be involved in the matchday 23 named by Eddie Jones on Thursday and will supply a ball-carrying threat at number eight where Mercer and Mark Wilson have been providing cover.

Nathan Hughes is set to return for England after serving a six-week ban

Saracens centre Lozowski has paid the price for waving Ryoto Nakamura through under the posts for one of Japan’s two touch downs, a mistake that saw him replaced by Owen Farrell at half-time.

His removal opens the door to Northampton’s Francis, who won the most recent of his four caps as a second-half replacement in the first Test of the summer tour to South Africa.

Richard Wigglesworth, a second-half replacement on Saturday, will deputise for Ben Youngs from the bench against Australia after ousting Care.

England will look to end their autumn Test series on a high against the Aussies after two victories from their first three matches – with wins over South Africa and Japan coming either side of a narrow 16-15 defeat to New Zealand.

England head coach Eddie Jones

England squad vs Australia:

Forwards: Charlie Ewels, Jamie George, Dylan Hartley, Alec Hepburn, Ted Hill, Nathan Hughes, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Ben Moon, Brad Shields, Kyle Sinckler, Elliott Stooke, Sam Underhill, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.

Backs: Chris Ashton, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Piers Francis, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Manu Tuilagi, Richard Wigglesworth, Ben Youngs.