Israel Folau will not be going to the Rugby World Cup nor represent the Wallabies again after having his contract terminated by Rugby Australia.
The 73-cap full-back has become a free agent after the union took action against their superstar for social media posts condemning ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers’ and others.
Folau’s sacking comes after an independent three-member panel gave the green light after it had been determined the Wallaby had committed a breach of RA’s code of conduct.
The option of appealing the decision is available for Folau to take within the next 72 hours, with the Waratahs star saying he is ‘considering his options’ in a statement.
In what has been a worrisome 18 months on the pitch for head coach Michael Cheika and the Wallabies, they now head to the World Cup without the prowess of Folau’s playing ability.
RA chief executive announced the news at a press conference on Friday, and said the union had been forced into a situation where no alternative was justifiable.
“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.
“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 Folau (@IzzyFolau) May 17, 2019
Folau is understood to have rejected a AUD$1m settlement offer from RA prior to his code of conduct hearing on 4 May.
The termination of 30-year-old’s contract means he leaves rugby union with nothing and has also been dropped by sponsor Asics.
Estimates from the code of conduct hearing have suggested the code of conduct hearing alone ran up costs of £300,000 across both sides, leaving Folau having to dig deeper into his pocket if he wishes to appeal.
In a statement, Folau upheld his right to freely express his religious views.
“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression,” he said. “The Christian faith has always been a part of my life an I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word.
“Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.”