Former Wallabies full-back Israel Folau had his contract terminated in 2019

Former Wallabies full-back Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 following his social media posts that said homosexuals were destined for hell unless they repented.

Related: Ten things you should know about Israel Folau

Israel Folau sacked Australia

This Israel Folau social media post led to his sacking (Instagram)

Israel Folau and Australia 2019

Folau faced a code of conduct hearing at the start of May 2019 and was found to have committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts.

A three-person panel issued a sanction that his playing contract should be terminated.

The then 30-year-old, who played in 73 Tests for Australia and scored 37 tries, decided not to appeal Rugby Australia’s decision before later launching legal action and fighting his sacking at the Fair Work Commission, claiming wrongful dismissal. A GoFundMe page raised $765,000 towards his legal battle with Rugby Australia in only four days. However, it was subsequently pulled after causing controversy given Folau’s status as a highly-paid athlete.

Eventually Rugby Australia and Israel Folau reached a settlement in 2019.

What was said at the time of Israel Folau’s sacking

After his sacking was announced in 2019, Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said: “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.

Israel Folau sacked by Rugby Australia

Statement: Raelene Castle speaks to the media following the Israel Folau decision (Getty Images)

“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.

“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.”

Folau said in a statement he is “deeply saddened” by the decision.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love,” he said. “I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.

“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression.

“The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word.”

Then Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had already said he would not pick Folau in his 2019 World Cup squad following his “disrespectful” comments. He added: “When you play in the gold jersey, we represent everyone in Australia – everyone. Everyone that’s out there supporting us. We don’t pick and choose.”

Israel Folau sacked by Rugby Australia

Case heard: Israel Folau leaves after his Code of Conduct hearing in Sydney (Getty Images)

Castle emphasised a similar message in her statement following the Folau announcement. She said: “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.”

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