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Rugby Australia apologises to Israel Folau as settlement is reached

04 December 2019

Rugby Australia and Israel Folau reached a settlement Wednesday that will end the former Wallaby's multi-million dollar lawsuit over his sacking for anti-gay comments.

Folau, an ardent Christian and former poster boy of Australian rugby, was sacked in May over a social media post warning "hell awaits" gay people and others he considers sinners.

Former Australia fullback Israel Folau has settled his unfair dismissal case with Rugby Australia and Super Rugby team the New South Wales Waratahs, Folau and Rugby Australia said in a joint statement.

But the details of the settlement, including what compensation Folau is getting, are being kept secret.

"The Social Media Post reflected Mr Folau's genuinely held religious beliefs, and Mr Folau did not intend to harm or offend any person when he uploaded the Social Media Post", the statement reads. He ignored Rugby Australia warnings that his conduct was in breach of his contract, and what is expected of a player, but did not delete the post nor back down.

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"Rugby Australia and Mr Folau wish each other well for the future".

'While it was not Rugby Australia's intention, Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.

Both parties acknowledged the damage they had caused each other and subsequently apologised for any hurt or harm brought about during the dispute.

With his wife Maria by his side, Folau later published a video statement on his website.

"Inclusiveness is one of rugby's core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community", the statement continued. Terms of the settlement will remain confidential.

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For their part, Rugby Australia will be thrilled the entire episode is over after a tumultuous year that saw the Wallabies exit the Rugby World Cup at the quarterfinals, a result that brought down the curtain on Michael Cheika's career as national coach.

The former rugby league and AFL player recently attracted criticism after he said the deadly bushfires were God's judgement for same-sex marriage and abortion laws.

Even his conservative backers condemned the remarks, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who cited Folau's sacking when introducing laws created to protect religious freedom.

"We started this journey on behalf of all people of faith to protect their rights of freedom of speech and religion".

"That's lawyer stuff - they wanted that and to reach a settlement everyone had to give a bit of ground and Australian rugby union (RA) had to give a lot of money so that's the way it's gone", he said.

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Rugby Australia apologises to Israel Folau as settlement is reached