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Israel Folau served with breach notice over comments

16 April 2019

Following his Instagram post which claimed "hell awaits" people such as "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters", Rugby Australia (RA) has served Folau with a breach notice. However, with the Wallabies key sponsor Qantas livid at his latest comments, rugby bosses have taken a hard line.

Vunipola was booed when he came off the bench for Saracens against Bristol in the Premiership at the weekend after liking Folau's posts before defending the Australian's anti-gay comments.

Folau's employers said his post (below) breached their Professional Players' Code of Conduct.

Folau can either accept the sanction-which would result in the termination of his employment-or he can have it referred to a code of conduct hearing.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and NSW chief executive Andrew Hore released a joint statement on the issue.

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'Following the events of previous year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations.

Rugby Australia had said it would terminate the contract of Folau, the country's best-known and best-paid player, if he could not offer a good reason for a social media post that said gay people would go to "hell" if they did not "repent". "We appreciate that this particular matter will attract significant interest, but due process must be followed".

Earlier on Monday, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika told reporters that Folau's "disrespectful" comments would now make it impossible to pick him in the national team, which is preparing for this year's World Cup in Japan.

"We've had the discussion about it after the last time about his right to believe and our support in that. but getting out in that disrespectful manner publicly, is not what our team's about", Cheika said. "We want players and employees that understand the wider value set of Rugby Australia and they can use their large social media followings and their positivity to do so many great things for the sport and 99 per cent of the players do that in this way".

Cheika emphasised the importance of the team but also said "everybody has the right to believe (in what they want) and we respect that right".

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"I'm disappointed in the fact that we're here again, second year running, that we're fronting up around an issue that on a large extent we'd settled and the impact that it has on the team", he said. "If that's not to continue on playing, so be it", he said.

'In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I'll definitely miss it.

However, this is not the first time Folau has found himself in hot water over his social media usage.

Ms Castle said it was "very disappointing" to see how Folau had behaved following the controversy of last year's tweets and RA's subsequent talks with the dual worldwide.

"In 40 years of telling people about the good news of Jesus, I have seen that the "turn or burn", approach to proclaiming the message of Christianity alienates people".

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Vunipola wrote his own post, saying Folau was trying to say that "how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be". "Even this morning I read he firmly believes it, so he's just missing one piece of the jigsaw puzzle I think".

Israel Folau served with breach notice over comments