Opinion - Seriously, Israel, again?!
"So well done Rugby Australia, you've got us hanging off every word Israel Folau says. Let's just hope the next time we have to talk about him, it won't be the same story all over again." - Folau fallout: Rugby Australia can't hide from hypocrisy, RNZ 17/04/2018
You have to hand it to Israel Folau. The guy is at least consistent not just with his messaging, but timing too.
Almost a year to the day from the last time he got everyone's attention for all the wrong reasons, he's back with an Old Testament style vengeance.
Last night on Instagram and Twitter the Waratahs and Wallabies fullback, who could also claim to be the best player in the world on his day, issued a warning to all drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters that they're all going to hell.
Israel Folau’s latest offering on Instagram, repeating the sentiments he expressed last year which saw sponsors threaten to walk away from Rugby Australia pic.twitter.com/O1gfIxehrw— Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) April 10, 2019
Twitter was in fine form in reaction to Folau's warning, with most responses being people gleefully consigning themselves to eternal damnation due to his extraordinarily broad guidelines. Last time it was just an Instagram reply that set off the extremely negative reaction, but this was truly going all in on what can only be only be described as a completely baffling viewpoint.
I don’t write this with hate or anger after Israel Folau’s comments.I write with sympathy. To everyone who reads it, don’t be influenced by his words. Be the better person and be YOU. Whoever YOU is..Hell doesn’t await YOU.Happiness awaits YOU.❤️— Gareth Thomas (@gareththomas14) April 10, 2019
Not that 'baffling' is regarding the actual views themselves. It's his right to hold them, no matter how ridiculous they are, and it comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody that Folau still actually thinks this way. What's beyond belief is that it's thought to be in defiance of his contract with Rugby Australia, which was renewed at the start of this season and Australian media report included clauses to stop him doing something like this again.
That was a four year contract that was reportedly in the range of seven figures, and now looks to be under threat less than four months in. For all you 'free speech' advocates out there, it appears what Folau signed waived his right to exercise that. He is an employee of Rugby Australia and is bound by their rules and regulations.
Save the moral arguments about beliefs and so forth, this could now put him in breach of his contract. Contract not withstanding, the Rugby Australia code of conduct requires players to "treat everyone equally, fairly and with dignity regardless of ... sexual identity" and that any forms of "bullying, harassment or discrimination has no place in rugby".
All of this comes a week after Folau proved that he's probably worth every cent of that money, even though his Waratahs side were pipped 32-29 in Auckland by the Blues. Their entire game plan revolved around getting the ball in his hands, whether it was by him chiming into the backline or plucking bombs out of the air that had been hoisted specifically for him to take.
It was enough for long-suffering Wallaby fans to actually hold out a little hope for this season. What had been a pretty tame few months in comparison to last year for Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has now turned into a complete mess that she can only really clean up by axing Folau and attempting to rebuild the relationships with sponsors, stakeholders, players and the general public that Folau's latest outburst has harmed. Their naming sponsor, Qantas, are probably first in line for a 'please explain'.
Then there's the fact that this is another torpedo slamming into the side of not only his, but his wife and Silver Fern Maria Folau's post-sporting career opportunities.
That's not all the bad news for Folau, either. There's the not so insignificant matter of if he's right, then wherever he's going when it's all over will be a pretty lonely place because the list he's compiled means that hell will most likely be filled with a lot of people.