Lessons on Inclusivity as Folau Falls

The Australian Rugby career of Israel Folau was terminated this morning with the announcement of the findings of the final written report from last months code of conduct hearing.

On April 10th Folau shared the Instagram post below with his 379,000 followers on Instagram.

It was a pretty unequivocal statement of his religious beliefs on the ‘code of conduct’ he believes should be followed in society but unsurprisingly it caused a significant amount of distress among those who would have included themselves among the list of people who he condemned as being on their way to hell.

The response of Rugby Australia was swift.  The sport has had issues with being seen as inclusive enough but has made great strides in recent years.

Dublin will host the Union Cup tournament here, a competition based on welcoming everybody but focused primarily on those within the LGBT+ community who want to play the sport.

Referee Nigel Owens is coming over to referee and Guinness, Bank of Ireland and Vodafone have all leant their backing as well as the IRFU.

That indication of reaching out is as far from Folau’s beliefs as you could imagine.

There is no question that he has the right as an individual to hold them but expressing them in a public forum requires a significant amount of thought and care over your fellow humans regardless.

Doing so as a national sporting icon gives them a platform that makes the hurt more painful and the impact more damaging.

Rugby and all sport needs to be open about the gap between what it says about inclusivity and how it is perceived on the same terms.

The Federation of Irish Sport Conference at DCU next Thursday will address this area and will have Gareth Thomas, the first openly gay international rugby player over as a guest speaker.

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The CEO of Rugby Australia backed up the decision to terminate Folau’s contract with the following words:

“While Rugby Australia accepts the panel’s decision directing termination of Israel Folau’s playing 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.

“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action.

“This has been an extremely challenging period for Rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team. But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.

“I’ve communicated directly with the players to make it clear that Rugby Australia fully supports their right to their own beliefs and nothing that has happened changes that. But when we are talking about inclusiveness in our game, we’re talking about 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.

“We thank the tribunal panel for their decision and we respect the time, consideration and expertise the panel members brought to this process.

“Representing Australia and all Australians on the Rugby field is a privilege. Selection is dependent upon a player’s ability to contribute to the Wallabies, and the game of Rugby itself, in a positive and consistent manner both on and off the field. When players sign a contract with the Wallabies, they sign up to the values of the team and the sport.

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

This was the post that caused the storm.  Lesson for all those who have a platform by virtue of their talent, be careful that you recognise the impact of what you say.

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

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