It has just been confirmed that Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have reached a financial settlement after the former Wallabies star launched legal proceedings against his former employer following his sacking earlier this year.
Rugby Australia published a statment on Wednesday, revealing that the legal fight between them and Folau – who was sacked in May this year in relation to a number of homophobic comments he shared on social media.
“Rugby Australia, NSW Rugby and Israel Folau have today settled their legal dispute following the dismissal of Israel Folau after he posted a religious message on social media,” Rugby Australia’s General Manager Michael Earsman said in the statement.
“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. Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity.”
It continued: “Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby do not in any way agree with the content of the Social Media Post … While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus. Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.”
However, while the settlement has brought the legal battle to an end, both parties have agreed to keep the details of the agreement confidential. The statement continued: “Rugby Australia and Mr Folau wish each other well for the future. The Parties do not intend to comment further on the terms of their settlement as it is confidential.”
Folau launched a legal fight against his former employer in August, with lawyers for the ex-Waratahs player claiming his actions were “consistent with his freedom of religious expression”. The 30-year-old, who was sacked after posting a series of comments on social media which suggested homosexuals and other “sinners” would go to hell had previously attempted to resolve the situation through the Fair Work Commission.
Folau also spoke out about his decision via a video posted on YouTube in which he confirmed the legal action and thanked Australians for their support in his continued fight against Rugby Australia.
“I’ve been blessed to have received the support of tens of thousands of Australians throughout my journey and I want to say thank you to everyone who has offered their prayers and support. It has meant so much to Maria and me over the last few months and gives us strength for the road ahead,” he said in the clip.
Announcing her intentions to tear up Folau’s contract in May, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle said at the time: “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. 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. 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.”