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Israel Folau escapes sanction by ARU for comments about gay community

By Adam Ellis

The Australia Rugby Union has confirmed it will not be reprimanding Israel Folau for his comments on his Instagram profile about gay people.

The Wallabies full-back came under fire earlier this month when he replied to a user’s question about God’s plan for gay people by saying, ‘hell… unless they repent for their sins and turn to God’. But after discussions with the player, ARU chief executive Raelene Castle confirmed no punishment would be enforced against the Waratahs back.

“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.”

This follows Folau going public with for the first time to address accusations of bigotry and homophobia, by revealing his views in a column for PlayersVoice.

In the column, the 29-year-old drops the bombshell that in a meeting with Castle and Waratahs general manager Andrew Hore, he said he was willing to walk away from his contract if they felt his position as a Wallaby international with his views had made for an untenable situation.

“During the meeting I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe,” Folau wrote.

“They explained their position and talked about external pressure from the media, sponsors and different parts of the community, which I understand.

“After we’d all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.

“I feel I need to explain this part in more detail because at no stage over the past two weeks have I wanted that to happen.

“There have been things written about me angling to get a release from my Rugby Australia deal to pursue an NRL contract. That simply isn’t true. There have been rugby offers from the UK, Europe and Japan that are way above anything I could earn in Australia.”

Folau’s contract with the ARU and Waratahs expires in 2019 and it has been suggested a three-year extension had been in the works for the international.

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