Folau fails in last line of defense - Green and Gold Rugby
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Folau fails in last line of defense

Folau fails in last line of defense

When is an apology not an apology? When it is court ordered. Remember when you were young and you would fight with your sibling, then your Mum or Dad would intervene and make you apologise? That is kind of what today’s joint press statement by Rugby Australia and Israel Folau felt like. I can understand why this left a bad taste in many people’s mouths, no matter which side of the dispute you are on, this result felt quite unsatisfactory.

This whole drawn out saga has seen even further division into a pretty fractured rugby landscape over the last couple of years. It really had to end, for all our sakes. Weirdly for me (of late at least) I have found myself fully behind the position of Rugby Australia on this one. To disparage a whole community (and others) like he did the first time is reprehensible, but possibly forgivable if shown to be done out of naivety and misplaced religious fervor, but to continue repeating these comments well after being admonished for them is inexcusable. Folau deserved to have his contract terminated. Rugby Australia did nothing wrong (for once) and in fact should be applauded for doing the right thing, even when this meant losing one of the best players in the world, right before a world cup.

Rugby Australia did not have to pay Folau one cent, so why did they? Simple, to not reach a settlement agreement (which was always going to involve remuneration for Folau) here would have seen the case go to court. Even if Rugby Australia’s confidence proves well founded and they win the case, the result is not as good for Rugby Australia as it would seem at first glance, here is why;

  1. Court cases are expensive exercises and Rugby Australia is not exactly flush right now. Win or lose Rugby Australia would be severely out of pocket by the time a result was handed down.
  2. No matter how confident you are of your case, there is always a chance that you could land an unfavourable judge who disagrees with you. While the likelihood of these appears rare, the consequence would be severe.
  3. Court cases take a long time. As long as the case is open, the story would continue. This story is damaging to Rugby Australia, especially as they embark on a new era with a new coach and significant change at board level.
  4. Leaving this matter unresolved gives Folau an excuse to grandstand, to continue spouting the diatribe that started this whole sordid affair.

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By reaching a settlement, Rugby Australia has attempted to bring the matter to a close. The best thing for Rugby Australia is for people to stop talking about Israel Folau, this is what they hoped to achieve with this settlement. Yes, it involved paying Folau an undisclosed sum of money, but I would wager (hope) that the figure paid was less than the estimated cost of a trial.

Which brings us neatly to the joint apology. A lot has been made of Rugby Australia apologising to Folau, with certain groups claiming it vindicates his stance. It does no such thing. On the surface, both appear to say the same thing, but do they? Rugby Australia apologise to Folau, not for terminating his contract, but for hurting his feelings. There is no further action beyond the mediation, Folau does not get his contract restored and he wont be playing in Australia any time soon. Folau on the other hand apologised to anyone affected by his social media post, he directly apologised for what he did, but he somehow still feels vindicated.

Rugby Australia offering a joint apology to Israel feels like when you where able to swap your brothers “yucky” chocolate bar for your own scrumptious carob. Both look the same, but someone definitely got the better deal!

In the end it was the most pragmatic course of action by Rugby Australia. Folau feels vindicated (even though he isnt) and Rugby Australia will only lose a little face. Not a bad result to put this issue behind them. I would have loved watching Folau take his case to the courts, and lose, but the risk was too high and the reward too little. While this is not the most satisfying of results, it is the most sensible.

Lastly, to our friends in the LGBTI community, rugby is with you. The core value of rugby is its inclusiveness, rugby is a game for all and always will be. The views of one misguided player can never change that.

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  • Slim 293

    Great article Brendan!

  • formerflanker

    Court ordered?
    I thought it was a mediation session at the Federal Court; no agreed settlement during mediation would see the case go forward to the Federal Court in February for a ruling.
    Only then would the court order anything.
    I stand to be corrected by legal eagles but if I am right your entire article is based on an incorrect statement.

    • Brendan Hill

      Call it poetic licence. Neither apology was “ordered” by a court, however they were both clearly part of the mediation agreement. Carefully worded to fit the desired script and not representative of either sides true feelings. Which is the intent I was playfully trying to convey. :)

      • MungBean

        It’s not poetic licence. It’s an untruth.

      • Ads

        You can disagree with Izzy (as you have) but i don’t think you can question that he believes what he says. He honestly thinks the liars drunkards fornicators etc are going to hell. He honestly wants them to repent. He has honestly apologised if this has upset people before. So I don’t think he has said anything that does not represent his true feelings. RA couldn’t have handled this any worse if they tried. Izzy wanted his apology and his money and got both.

        • laurence king

          Netball NZ handled the situation far better when sponsors tried to put pressure on them to terminate Mrs Folau’s post in support of her husband. They said we don’t agree with her and then moved on. End of story. The virtue signalling PC brigade didn’t get their way, and for that I’m glad. And RA has come out of it looking like a twat, and that’s about right.

        • Trev

          Bit different, her posts were in support of her husband she didn’t repost what he said. She has never condemned anyone on Insta, to my knowledge. I think if she repost his original post then she would be in hot water.

        • formerflanker

          IIRC, Maria asked for support for Israel’s fundraising, thus inferring support for his posts.
          The key similarity is that both athletes had sponsors giving them instructions on who to employ in the game.
          RA caved in to Qantas; NA said that even though they disagreed with her, Maria had the right to keep playing.
          If only Castle had done the same thing!

        • Trev

          RA did that the first time he said it and he made commitments not to repeat similar anti gay posts. How many chances should he get to offend rugby stakeholders?

        • laurence king

          The whole thing started with a tweet that they should have pretty much ignored. And there are a lot of rugby stakeholders who believe in a Folau’s right to say what he said.

        • Trev

          Plenty believe he can say whatever he likes but does anyone really believe that what he said was helpful in promoting the game of rugby? Does anyone really believe that the post would do anything other than divide the community and cause a great deal drama for RA, the Wallabies and the Waratahs.

        • Ads

          RA initiated that themselves by taking a corp position on SSM when they should have shut up about that too. They stuffed that decision and immediately pissed off all the islanders/Christians (Rugby has a largely conservative base so that’s a big demographic). That is where the initial community divide occurred. The first tweet was in response to that. RA divided their own community. And then folded under pressure from the sponsor when they could have been inclusive. And then folded again this week and apologized. What a huge shit storm of their own creation.

        • Trev

          Just about all sports got onboard with the yes vote and many corporations too. RA was hardly on their own, they probably would have been had they not taken a position.
          At the Izzy said he would no and there was reprimand for him.

        • Dally M

          Where were all these Islanders/Christians who were pissed off? Surely they were boycotting the ARU or telling all and sundry they were pissed off? And what were they pissed off about? Surely not religious freedom because pretty sure they were told they were free to profess their faith respectfully and they understood they were not being prevented from doing so.

        • Neil Pocock

          You must live under a rock if you missed that powder keg! Social media was littered with nervous and confused players, even international players hit the headlines questioning why Folou was under fire and the threat that obviously posed them who shared the same beliefs. RA had to go all in the cool it down. Taniela Topou was quite outspoken if you wish to actually look it up…….

        • Dally M

          Haha littered eh, maybe a couple of posts from a few confused players prior to Folau’s code of conduct hearing who did not understand what he was being charged with.

          After RA stated why he was sacked and they were welcome to respectfully express their religious beliefs…..crickets.

          And why did RA have to explain it? Because of the misinformation being propagated by the Folau camp/supporters that this was about religious beliefs.

        • Neil Pocock

          Who says what he says on his own private page has to help promote the game of rugby!
          The way you guys carry on next well have people who do or don’t eat meat/go vegan getting g fired as thats what the CEO of Qantas believes will save the world……..
          Now if he had been on the footy show or on the RA website posting that……. totally understandable thet may feel his personal beliefs aren’t ones they want highlighted. A bit like how they took it upon themselves to support gay rights on behalf of all Rugby players huh! Muslim’s included……. now there’s a touchy one…..

        • Custard Taht

          It always starts with a tweet, then how’d it end up like this, it was only a tweet, it was only tweet.

        • Neil Pocock

          He made ZERO such commitments! Show me where he did…….. That’s one of the biggest facts flawed dishonest media has flaunted and mislead the masses!

        • Trev

          In his own words from Athletes Voice website
          “ After we’d all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately”

        • Neil Pocock

          And what did they say to that offer? No, no need, no contract, no clause, no NOTHING!
          He actually left that meeting and continued doing what he’d been doing. Citing scripture, talking to people and answering their questions! Totally consistent with what he claims his intentions were!
          But no you are dead wrong…. their was absurdly ZERO commitments made by Folou!
          And his timeline that shows a very brief meeting with Castle then Cheika prove that if you look it up!

        • Dally M

          Is not stating ” if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately”

          Sounds like a commitment to me.

          But did he walk away…..nope. He proved himself a liar

        • Andrew Luscombe

          It says “if the situation had become untenable”, not “if the situation ever becomes untenable”. It was an offer he made at the time, to be taken up or not at the time.

        • Neil Pocock

          Exactly….. It’s actually not very hard to understand! Unless of course there is a predisposition to be biased on the topic……. stubourn even!

        • laurence king

          The whole thing has come to nought, RA looks ridiculous. I hope other sporting bodies will learn a lesson and in future stop listening to the PC brigade. If not what’s next, some bloke says something he shouldn’t when he’s half stung in a pub, and because he’s got his 5 minutes of fame because he’s a celebrity sportsmen, some dickhead with a phone can make a name for himself. Everybody should take a chill pill.

        • You are mostly right but in the end Izzy got too greedy. Hopefully though he has dispensation to play top class rugby elsewhere – French Clubs may snap him up.

        • Neil Pocock

          Greedy? You know him well do you. Personally maybe? Because everything I’ve read that couldn’t be farther from the actual truth!

        • Dally M

          Then why did he not fund his own legal crusade?

        • Neil Pocock

          It’s actually very simple…… for starters all that money is now being handed back as they Settled……. Secondly, his court case had the potential to impact every single person in this country in varying amounts, some hugely if they’re religious or hold strong political views that their employers don’t also hold!
          Not a cent of that money was for Folou himself, anything leftover was to be used for similar future items. Turns out there was so much support that they shut the money flow down! Sounds very reasonable to me!
          But I spose it is very easy to simple splurt out GREEDY……

        • Dally M

          No it’s not – Refunds are being given on a pro-rata basis based on the amount used up. “Donors who gave to the Folau campaign will be contacted in due course and are entitled to refunds on a pro-rata basis, in accordance with our original commitment,” ACL managing director Martyn Iles

          No it didn’t – It wasn’t about religion. It was about him being breaching his contract and going back on his word, posting messages that were not inclusive and in line with his employers position despite being told not to do so. He was never stopped or reprimanded for posting other religious statements between the posts he was spoken to about by RA.

          Rubbish. He used the money to fund his case and secure a settlement for himself. Or did i miss the announcement he was donating the money to charity or the victims of the bush fires? If it was truly about standing up for every single person in this country’s right to express their religion he would not have settled.

        • Who?

          You’re right about refunds (just to be clear – nothing coming my way – I wanted this thing in court, but I wasn’t giving him money). But the other two points are very debatable.
          .
          The point was, for Folau, absolutely about his religion. This is something far too many don’t understand – that religion can be all held/felt as deeply as sexuality, race, anything. Not always, less commonly in the west (such as Australia), but certainly sometimes. Folau has strong beliefs, he has a right to those beliefs. He has a right to practice his faith, and part of practicing his faith, for Folau, is to preach. Be it behind a pulpit and then published on FaceBook, or by social media posts. He wasn’t reprimanded for other posts (though I’d reckon his bushfire post would’ve seen him cop it from RA, were he still an employee!), but that’s only because that’s where his religious belief and his employer’s standards didn’t clash.
          .
          And even in terms of the controversial posts (well, maybe not the bushfires! But they’re not the primary posts), it’s worth noting that the RA/Folau joint statement accepts his original statements were not intended to cause offence or harm. Which is easily interpreted as saying they weren’t vilifying or discriminatory. To be discriminatory, they need to show a difference in attitude from the person making the statement towards those mentioned in the statement, and that’s not clearly conveyed. The joint statement acknowledges that Folau doesn’t accept discrimination towards people on any basis.
          .
          Effectively, the statement accepts that Folau’s original statement – by not intending to cause harm or offence, and through endorsing that Folau accepts no form of discrimination for any person – doesn’t breach the code of conduct.
          .
          Folau absolutely used the settlement to ensure he had money. Which is understandable – he’s not going to have any income coming in any time soon, if ever. I’ve seen and heard much more discriminatory things said in private industry without any repercussions, no loss of income. So I don’t blame him for doing what others would do.
          .
          However, it should be pointed out that Folau’s original demands were to reinstate him on the basis that he hadn’t broken the code of conduct, and apologize. He got his apology, and he had his code of conduct breach (as ruled by the original panel) effectively overturned by the joint statement. And he saw (at a guess most of – the smart money seems to be in the $3-3.5M range) his contract paid out. That’s basically all the points he was originally chasing.
          And it’s also arguable that by achieving a fair outcome, Folau at least upheld the prospect that it’s not a settled thing that employees can be sacked for what they believe is fair religious expression. Even if that’s not proven in court, and the extents of ‘fair religious expression’
          .
          But it’s not a loss for RA, they’ve gotten away without the cost of the court battle, it’s far lower than Folau ultimately ended up claiming in the process, RA has retained Qantas, they’ve removed the prospect of a court case overshadowing the start of Super Rugby… And they’ve managed to get rid of a player with views they don’t understand.
          .
          I say it that way (a player they don’t understand), as the joinst statement says he basically follows the code of conduct, he tolerates no discrimination (no objection to that from RA), yet they consider him a homophobic bigot. Perhaps a better way to describe him is to say he’s a good bloke with a complete lack of grace in his speech, an extreme preponderance for eating his own boots, living in a time when his old fashioned views are consistently met by the outrage machine (from both directions).
          .
          It’s a fair outcome for both parties, it’s just a disappointment for contract and employment law.
          But there’s no reason for people to continue with assassinating the character of parties on each side of the dispute.

        • voodoo economics

          He’s a fundamentalist media whore who loves attention, publicity and money. He deceives to feed his ego and bank balance and deep within his psyche he knows this is the real truth.

  • MungBean

    RA had the backsides handed to them and deservedly so. Folau’s team told RA that that had a pile of PI players lined up to give evidence that RA bullied them for being Christian. RA folded.

    Once again, this article perpetuates the lie that Folau singled out gay people. He didn’t. He singled out ‘sinners’, of which, as an atheist and a sinner in other noted arenas, I am on the list.

    This atheist is happy to see Folau win (although would’ve been happier to see the RA worms squirm in court). I’m more concerned that there is a large section of society that wishes to create special legal protection for certain people based upon their sexual preference. Folau’s superstitious musings are far less of a concern because, here’s the critical part that everyone who is determined to be offended is ignoring: hell does not exist.

    • Who?

      I’m with you – wish it went to court. I get why RA folded – and that’s how it feels. The wording of the statement absolutely feels that way. They’ve admitted that Folau intended no offence, and if they accept he intended no offence, that effectively means he didn’t intend to vilify/disparage/exclude people. They accepted that he doesn’t accept discrimination on any basis. If that’s what they accepted, then they’ve effectively said that they’ve terminated his contract for no reason (because he holds the same inclusive attitude towards all people regarding Rugby). Folau didn’t have to admit anything. And then Raelene said, “Never say never,” about possibly re-signing Folau again in the future… I mean, never say never, but the reality is the bloke’s close to retirement age for an outside back, we were all questioning the four year contract when he signed in 2018!
      .
      But they’ve maintained that they disagree with his original comments, which means they don’t believe that those on Folau’s list are going to hell. They’re excluded from ‘not hell’, because Folau never excluded them from Rugby or anything other than ‘not hell’ in his believed afterlife. But honestly, who cares?! What’s the point of a corporate position on the possibility of an afterlife?! By a body which is effectively powerless in its own game and industry (i.e. sport)? Apparently, according to RA, none of the people Folau listed are going to hell. They haven’t put forward a theological position as to whether Folau or anyone else not listed by Folau is going to heaven… :-P
      Why even think of entering such a debate?!
      .
      I wish it had gone to court. It would’ve brought legal clarity, it may have stopped the debate over whether or not we need legal protections for some of those who are portrayed as modern Luddites (i.e. people clinging to pieces of the past in a time of ever accelerating change – this can include those of faith in religions, or even climate deniers, though obviously they’re not needing legal protection at this point. Let’s be fair, each one of us is deluded in some way – many thought Cheika was a good international coach! No one is the suppository of all wisdom :-P ). It would’ve shone a light on RA’s continued incompetence.
      .
      I agree with Brendan that the decision was a pragmatic one from RA. Catherine Murphy listed off millions of lost dollars of motivation for the settlement on The Project tonight – from Fox Sports walking away from negotiations on the broadcast rights, to losing sponsors, ongoing negative publicity, to the major turnover that’s well overdue at the board level. There’s clear reason to move on.
      .
      All that said, I don’t know that Raelene’s fully to blame for this, and the handling of it. She’s admitted in hindsight it might’ve been better not to re-sign him. But do you think Cheika would’ve allowed that? I don’t. She didn’t have anywhere near the authority to make that call in her tenure – Cheika wanted his multi million dollar men (Folau and Hooper). And the process? She’s held hostage by sponsorship dollars – regardless of whether or not there was direct contact with Mr Joyce (as put forward by some publications), she’s guided by the board and the people she can access for setting up things like supposedly independent tribunals (again, something listed as a major problem by some publications)… It’s a minefield, and she’s not local enough to know where to find people she could trust. RA didn’t necessarily handle the situation well, but Raelene’s not the core of the issue. The core is cultural, and I still don’t feel she’s setting the culture, not in the same way that JON and perhaps Pulver set the culture. It still feels like Clyne’s RA.

    • Anonymous bloke

      The point is you’re an atheist by choice. That’s the difference. Not that hard to understand.

      • MungBean

        The natural state of man is atheism. Not that hard to understand.

        • Gnostic

          Actually most philosophical reasoning points to the opposite being the case Mung Bean.

          My view on this is pretty simple. Folau is a fundamentalist. All fundamentalists whether religious, Political or other bent have a common theme. They do not change and are closed minded to any argument or debate. They do not accept and cannot accept the basis of an alternate view and cannot tolerate its existence.

          Knowing this RA re-signed him. It is their fault completely, if they (read their sponsors) could not tolerate his posturing.

          RA only exists to manage the game, the fact that they totally failed to manage a single player, yet again, despite having the ability to not sign him is their responsibility. Clyne, board and Castle all failed. Just like the Banker he is Clyne has wormed his way out of taking any responsibility and ably led the other members along the same path, for the outcomes that occur under their management. Clyne just like other bankers the world over will walk away with a massive share of coin for completely F^%%$# the organization he supposedly worked for, just like he did at NAB. Now RA has paid out Foalu as well, they could have not signed him or ignored his idiocy, but no lets spend the money of a barely solvent organisation and try to tell the bottom of the tier that they will not be impacted.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Not hard to understand, but counter productive to believe, and not completely true either.

        Atheists believe there is nothing apart from what they see because of how they were born. Agnostics just don’t know because they were born not being confident in things. People are born superstitious, or unsure, cynical, etc. Some people are born with a taste for alcohol, while others aren’t and don’t partake. Some people are born with a strong sex drive – others aren’t. Izzy is superstitious due to having superstitious genetics from his parents and a superstitious upbringing, so is he exempt too?

        There is no moral system that lets people do whatever they want because they were born or raised wanting to do it. It’s much better to say that gay people and/or their behaviour is fine in and of itself, or it does no harm, etc.

  • dsb

    This whole matter was badly handled from the start. Should not have overacted to the concerns of what one person says at church. The inclusiveness is to minority groups but not to evangelical enthusiasts. People need to be accepted for what they are but we do need to make those views the centrepiece of the Rugby focus. That is doing something about the poor governance and leadership of Rugby in Australia!

    • Neil Pocock

      Yeah because the way they handled it almost led to a mass PI player walk out! As it was John Folou and another player at the Tahs Wete bullied into leaving because of this topic! Haven’t heard much about that in the media have we……..

  • Crescent

    I kind of hoped it was going to go the distance. This is the second example of a person claiming unlawful termination around this issue, and neither case has gone the distance. The other case was the girl in Canberra sacked for posting “It’s OK to Vote No” – but her employment status was not clear, and unable to proceed to the Fair Work Commission.

    I am interested in seeing where a court draws a line between fair comment and hate speech. For the record, I suspect Izzy crossed the line in terms of using his profile to bring the organisation into disrepute. This is something that exists in my current employment contract, and hence the interest in seeing how a court would determine what does and does not bring an organisation into disrepute.

    I would have argued that the lass in Canberra should have been protected as fair comment. Voting no was an option – airing a view that you can exercise that right and be voted down by the majority should not have an impact on your employment. It is like saying airing your preferred political party that is contrary to your employers preference is a sackable offence, which is absurd.

    Anyway, glad it is finally over. My last thought, for those deeply concerned about the harm the shit posts can cause. What is more harmful, the idiot putting it out to a limited audience that largely agree with them, or the organisations with much wider reach putting out the full stupidity across a range of publications repeatedly? Perhaps they could mention another shit post has gone up, and they decline to give the substance of it an audience (and therefore protecting the vulnerable from the harm they were so concerned about).

    • Neil Pocock

      A precedent may have been set in England this year where an almost exact case of a community worker was fired for his christian beliefs! After 2years or so he was awarded 12 million I think. Some lawyers I heard believe there’s no way that case didn’t get a mention in the ARUs risk management talks!

  • disqus_NMX

    The real factor that determines if this was a win or loss for RA or Folau, is how much was the payout! Does anyone have any inside info?

    • Happyman

      Mate I don’t know the numbers but the conversation would go something like this.

      RA costs say $500,000 This is our cost one way or another even if we win

      His costs Say $500,000 which RA would have to pay if he was awarded $1
      Plus any potential costs awarded.

      Then it is your risk as to what way payout would be.

    • Neil Pocock

      Considering tje ARU apparently allready offered 1 million(while denying the offer) and Folou didn’t take that….. I’d be guessing his bare minimum would be at least the rest of his recent 4 or so million contract thst remained!

  • Happyman

    Gents

    For mine RA mad ether correct business decision. They made a determination about the costs of proceeding and assigned a risk to that cost. taking into account legal costs.

    I have no doubt they also took into consideration the amount of negative impact this was having on the game.

    I would like to note that Rugby is probably the most inclusive sport in Australia it is a broad church and has been at the forefront of inclusiveness. All are welcome Athiests like myself, to men and women of religion to the gay community.

    Falou team have managed to take this from being a employment dispute to a freedom of speech issue. IMHO he was always allowed to spew his hateful thoughts on religion and the Outsiders who are not in his brand of it. But he was not allowed to distribute such things while employed by RA.

    I am sure if he wanted to play the game again as an amateur most clubs would welcome him but we all know it has just been about the money. I really don’t see a professional team giving him a contract even in France and England. The NRL has ruled him out.

    So we are left with a 30 something year old outside back who is not well educated and not particularly marketable going forward. I hope he looks after the money he has left or he could be a very cautionary tale in about 5 years.

    As a Rugby fan for what he will be quickly forgotten not many have any love for him.

    • Custard Taht

      But why isn’t he allowed to preach those things in his own time?
      Whilst sitting at home, was he still considered an employee?
      If he injured himself posting his Instagram thing, would he be eligible for workers comp?
      Is a workplace code of conduct enforceable in someone’s private residence in their own time?
      If so, does that mean all workplace codes, such as dress codes are also enforceable in someone’s private residence in their own time?
      If so, does that then mean someone’s private residence is now considered part of the workplace, if workplace agreements are enforceable outside of work?

      • Happyman

        I listen to an American Podcast and one of the presenters who played for ten years in the NFL puts it like this.

        You do not get paid to play the game that is the bit of the job that you do for free. Players play for free but get paid to train rehab do film work and represent the organisation.

        You get paid to not be a dick.
        Don’t beat up women.
        Don’t Preach divisive things when you are part of an inclusive organisation.
        Social media is a strong part of any professional sportsman role in this day and age.

        IF was not paid to just be a rugby player he was paid for all of the off field things which includes not being a Dick.

        • Custard Taht

          I like the NFL too, and there are number of clubs with a social media policy like this;

          Have two accounts, one private and one football and keep the two separate.
          Don’t post anything private on the football account, and don’t post anything football on the private.
          If you post anything that contradicts or damages the club on your football account, or if you do it on the private account and your private account has football related content, you are open to discipline.

          I quite like this approach and think it is balanced and reasonable. Say what you want, just make sure there is no reference to the team or football.

          That is where I think Folau stuffed up, his account was one and the same.

          I just don’t like where society is headed. It seems like an employee has an obligation to their employer 24/7, whilst the employer only has an obligation to their employee 9-5, 5 days a week.

        • Neil Pocock

          Agreed…… people have no clue how bad it could have turned if RA won a law suit like this!

        • Gnostic

          Hasn’t applied to Beale or a few others. Why then to Folau? I don’t disagree, fundamentally, but I cannot abide the lack of consistency. Beale is has proven serious traffic offences and a domestic on assault to his name even if no conviction was recorded it happened and criminal charges were laid. Then the proved matter of sexual harassment of an employee of RA. Yet he is recontracted and higher pay and gets the “honour” of designing the jersey. There are other examples in the current Pro ranks as well.

        • Who?

          Was that Beale or another one of the starters at the last RWC..? Beale’s no angel, but I’m not sure he’s faced criminal charges in the past year. Unlike another Wallaby, who was found asleep in an intersection well over the legal BAC limit.
          .
          Not debating your point about consistency, just ensuring accuracy and hopefully limiting liability.

        • Gnostic

          It is accurate and a matter of public record, why are we worried about liability. Its not as if it is like Elon Musk getting away with calling someone a paedeophile with no basis for the statement. These are matter that have been to court or before the proper disciplinary committee and determined. As for Tolu Latu why beat around the bush that matter has also been before the court and is part of the public record.

          My point is the Beale matters set a precedent for RA to deal with matters involving actual criminality and they did not require termination of employment. I don’t give a rats left one for Folau, over rated by far, no better at the day of his termination than when he started, great broken field runner and unparalleled in the air but extremely limited in every other skill set required, but the kangaroo court and precedent this sets is disturbing for me, we let criminality go but moralistic posturing over tweets from a religious fundamentalist is now sackable.

        • Who?

          I remember Latu falling asleep and getting charged, my point is that I don’t recall Beale getting done. If you can provide a link, that’d be great. Because I don’t think I miss many stories, and one like that, I reckon it would’ve been widely reported.
          .
          Why beat about the bush about Latu? Because I was thinking you’d mistaken Latu’s offence as being committed by Beale. Rather than a separate item.
          .
          As mentioned, I feel similarly about the principles, and agree the Beale case in 2014 sets precedent. But I don’t recall Beale being charged – certainly not recently – with serious traffic offences or domestic assault.

      • Neil Pocock

        Exactly……. and that’s precisely why we are governed by a pacific law that allows us to public express our beliefs! No doubt that had a role somehow in RA cutting n running early!

        • iTm

          The law(s) to which you refer say that you can express your beliefs…… provided that they aren’t discriminatory. In an ironic paradox, Folau would have to concede that hell isn’t real to avoid prosecution under the hate speech clause in the UN IHR freedom of speech paragraph.

        • Who?

          Could you give further detail on that claim? Because it’s fascinating. It effectively condemns around half the planet to hate speech. When do you think they’ll press charges against the Pope for hate speech..?
          .
          I don’t see where Folau condemned anyone to hell. I see where he advised that hell was the fate of large groups of people (pretty confident I’m among them), but he never claimed to be the one who determined that they were going to hell.
          It’s amazing to me how black and white we’ve gotten on areas that really are grey. How little empathy and tolerance we have for different opinions (even when they’re not imposing themselves on others – Folau’s beliefs were put forward to others, but they weren’t imposed, let alone enforced). And how rapidly we turn to outrage on every single minor point (not calling this a minor point, but it’s true).

        • Neil Pocock

          If only that was where it stopped. Media grabs snippets and pumps out headlines that leave the masses totally unschooled about not only the topic, but the facts surrounding them, the context and many other things!
          The amount of friends and acquaintances I have who simply thought Folou posted “gay’s were going to hell” is just plain n simply sad!

        • iTm

          True, In full context, Gays and Atheists will go to hell if they don’t modify their behavior AND repent.
          It is actually intolerant of a much larger section of the population. I am pretty sure full context paints a worse picture for Folau, not a better one.

        • iTm

          The UN IHR laws defines hate speech as ~inciting or advocating for violence or discrimination against another person.Folau is definitely advocating for something, so we have the first part covered..

          I have seen the “Folau didn’t condemn anyone to hell” a few times, the argument requires a lot of weasel words to make, but at the end of the day, he did effectively say: change your ways or you will go to hell, inferring: don’t be gay, or atheist or you will face dire consequences.

          For the sake of argument, lets hypothesize that that God and Hell are real. Assuming Hell is still a violent place, this is case closed. It gets squirly when you are talking about an fictitious concept. Fortunately the law doesn’t recognize the existence of any deity nor their domain, so a prosecution isn’t valid.

          But Folau and a significant number of his followers do believe in hell, so in Folau’s domain the comments are at the very least, hateful, and not what I want to see from any representative of my country..

          As to 1/2 the population, the passages in Bronze age self help books like the one that Folau (mis)quotes may be hateful or at the vey leat intolerant, but this is only an issue when they used to “advocate for …”. In the modern era, it tends to only be extremest groups that spout this twaddle, so, now we are down to a few % so, we are only talking about in roughly 100 Million people that actively advocate for differential treatment of other races, religions, women and sexuality.

        • Who?

          As mentioned, show me the Pope’s indictment. He’s reinforced all the long held Catholic traditions around sexuality. Which includes that homosexual people go to hell (without ever discussing paedophile priests).
          .
          The “Folau didn’t condemn anyone to hell” argument requires no weasel words, it just requires an understanding that people who hold religious beliefs genuinely hold them. A broader understanding that those of us in the west are generally willing to hold. Do you think that people in India who choose the sacrifices they make for cows are just holding a nice tradition? That those who practice various forms of self-mutilation (genital or otherwise) just do things intellectually? That people who blow themselves up on a promise (which many claim is a misunderstanding – and a less commonly held misunderstanding than the widespread, centuries old beliefs across multiple religions about the taboo nature of homosexuality) are doing it on anything other than a literal and bones-deep belief?
          .
          In the west, we’re effectively a post-religious society. We seem to believe that religion is a straight up choice, or it’s a nominal family tradition that’s not held with any conviction. Now, religion may start that way, but if it’s a choice, it often – rapidly – becomes much more than just a choice. Hence the major life changes we see from many people upon the adoption of a faith (across many faiths). Where it’s most interesting – from a horribly intellectual perspective – is where that faith contradicts nature, and you see people fight biology (like homosexual urges) for long periods of time – even decades. You can’t have people behaving in such a manner – fighting biology like that – on a purely mental basis.
          .
          So if people can open their minds to the fact that this isn’t a meekly held idle hope, but is rather a belief that can even match the belief in concrete things like gravity, then suddenly this is not personal wishing. It’s someone saying, “I believe in gravity, and I believe when you die you face bad things with as much belief/certainty.” It’s not someone imposing their own personal hopes on someone else. It’s someone warning of consequences in the same way we warn people to wear helmets and seatbelts, and tell people not to smoke.
          .
          The question of hatefulness is one of intent. Do you belief that Folau hopes that those who can be described by the 8 or so offences he listed face hell? Or do you think he wants them to change? Now, I’m not going to say I know exactly how he feels. I’m willing to guess he hopes people change (I do like to give people of all stripes the benefit of the doubt – something that flies in the face of our modern, outrage-focused, guilty-until-proven-innocent mentality), though I’m also open to believing he’s not devastated if not everyone changes (after all, his cousin was sacked for saying that Catholics are going to hell whilst being employed by a Catholic school – which is fair, because you can’t be an active Tahs recruiter whilst working for the Reds). Ultimately, I don’t think it can be proven that his statements are truly from spite, and his actions around LGBTIQ+ people would speak more to that ultimate motivation than his words in their absence.
          .
          You’ve noted that the law doesn’t recognise deities or an afterlife. The crazy thing is that, in contradicting Folau’s statement, RA have indicated they do believe in an afterlife, and indicated they feel they have power over it.
          .
          And half the population doesn’t live in the west. We’ve got billions in India (lots of religion there!), China (officially atheist, but still strong traditions which are held in spite of atheist laws), Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East… You can (and I believe with decent justification) say that we’re in a better place than those nations, in that we do have a system whereby discussion of an afterlife and admittance to it related to sexual behaviour is largely an academic discussion here. It’s not necessarily that way in Indonesia, or Myanmar, or Malawi.
          .
          I think we should have pride in the fact that we’re ‘civilised’ enough to have these discussions as discussions, but we shouldn’t be so self important and self righteous as to condemn those who believe/feel/act differently as being inferior. There’s plenty of people who hold different values/beliefs to us who are at least equally ‘civilised’, or scientific, or whatever else you may wish to champion.
          But we should also be very conscious that many of those in the UN who sign off on these conventions – which, for the most part are very good – may also find it very hard to abide by those conventions themselves. It’s one thing to hold something in theory, another to have to deal with it in practice. I don’t say that to say the policies are wrong, just to highlight that even the most ‘progressive’ policy maker can struggle with our own inertia. And sometimes that inertia isn’t a bad thing (not every ‘progressive’ policy in history has been good – just as staying stuck in the past isn’t always good).

        • Neil Pocock

          But 1st you have to prove HE is discriminating! As has been exhaustively said….. Folou never said he was judging or pointing any fingers at anyone! It was a msg born if love for his fellow man, appealing to them to basically lead a clean healthy honest life as described in the bible by god’s guidelines…… Not Folous!
          THAT very point is why the players nearly all walked out…. and not just here in Aus either!

        • iTm

          Advocating for different treatment of any protected group. Advocating for behavior modification that is protected by Australian law. Sounds pretty discriminatory to me.
          All that is a moot point, it is intolerant, and not inclusive, which goes against the code of conduct he was paid millions of dollars to agree to.

        • Who?

          It’s not proven to be intolerant (it was never settled as a question of law, it’s referring to what he’d consider a higher law), it’s not shown to be failing to be inclusive regarding Rugby (which is a position endorsed by the joint statement). And the code of conduct? It’s also not proven to have been legal, given we didn’t see it go to court.
          .
          I really wish it had gone to court, to provide clarity.

        • iTm

          I think that this is a straw man argument. I don’t think there is any doubt that it is intolerant and/or discriminatory. The key point is whether or not RA had the contractual right to dictate what he said on social media. Go-Fund-Me exercised their right not to have it on their platform,….

        • Who?

          No doubt it’s intolerant or discriminatory. How can you be sure? How does it show that he is personally discriminating? How does it show he doesn’t show tolerance to those who don’t hold his position? And how do you prove that in law?
          .
          In terms of Go Fund Me, the hypocrisy of online platforms in picking and choosing what they’ll allow and block is nothing new. Witness the continued blocking of funding to Wikileaks by many organisations (and I don’t say that having a black or white position on them – they live in a shade of grey, as do we all). But they have a clearer case than RA, where it’s debatable as to where the edges of ‘religious practice and expression’ sit. It really would’ve been better if it had proceeded to court, and we’d had a decision in law.
          .
          Instead, we continue to have FOlau proclaimed as a homophobe across media platforms, where if such a statement were made in any other field, the claims would be considered libellous. Can you imagine if someone were proclaimed a zoophile (not claiming they’d acted on that alleged instinct), consistently in the press? There’d be lawsuits aplenty. What if they were claimed to be a drug user? Again, even when there’s video footage, they’re ‘alleged’ users, until it’s proven or otherwise in court. No court has ruled Folau’s statement or graphic to be homophobic, so constantly labelling them as such isn’t confirming a fact, rather it is making a definition. And in doing that, it’s showing no benefit of the doubt, it’s ruling someone as guilty until proven innocent. That does our society no benefit. But it would benefit us all if we had a clear legal ruling. Because we need to see the extents of free speech and hate speech clarified. I don’t see it as hate speech when a Muslim says I won’t go to paradise when I die. I do see it as hate speech if I see a Christian advocating killing Jews. If I see a Sikh advocating not shopping at a Hindu shop, is that hate speech..? Or a Vegan advocating boycotting a butcher? Probably not – but clarity would be good for everyone.

        • iTm

          It is only apologists that are trying to manipulate the message to change its meaning to be something that it isn’t. Folau has never backed away from the content, and if there is any confusion refer to his opposition so SSM and the cause of the bush fires. Folau’s Post is there for all to see, he “said” it, he means it, it is in black and white. The issue has always been around his right to say what he said.

          As a citizen, it is within the law,
          As a human it is deplorable As an RA employee that signed a public code of conduct agreement it is grounds for termination.

          The only issues under question are:
          Was Folau in an environment covered by his public code of conduct clause?
          and

          Whether or not employers have the right to contractually restrict expression of religious intolerance?
          I know if I said that sort of garbage on a mine site that I work at I would be on the first flight out, never to return.

          The UN IHR laws don’t need clarification, assuming you know how to read, the meaning is unambiguous.

          Reading between the lines, I don’t think you agree with the UN IHR.

          Perhaps you need to go live in the US where there is no hate speech clause and you can say whatever you like, including getting together a bunch of your mates, grab some pillow cases and tiki torches and go out and intimidate those that are “not like you”
          Me, I am fine to give up any perceived right to bigotry and intolerance for the betterment of society,
          Hiding behind Christianity is a false flag, Another book with a Swastika instead of a cross has similar messaging.

        • Who?

          Folau hasn’t backed away from his statement of his religious belief. This goes to my point about people not understanding that people of faith often hold their faith in the same manner we hold gravity. Why would he back away from something he believes? That any of those ‘sinners’ will ultimately go to hell if they don’t change?
          .
          Claiming something is deplorable as a human shows your own religious and ethical beliefs. If you held Folau’s beliefs with the same depth, or most other traditional faiths, you’d likely feel exactly the opposite way – that the sin is deplorable, and that people need to see the light – that they need to move from such a ‘backwards’ position (of not believing what you believe) and find the ‘freedom’ of your own belief.
          We don’t ever look through other people’s eyes enough.
          .
          In terms of the question, “Was Folau in an environment covered by his public code of conduct clause?” That’s not the only question. The questions are:
          “Did this breach the code of conduct?” This wasn’t answered by a truly independent panel – it was answered by people appointed by an employer already set on sacking the employee.
          “Does the Code of Conduct have authority to restrict freedom of religious expression?” I’d venture that the answer to this is no…
          “Does this statement come under the bounds of religious expression/practice?” This is a very grey area, especially given he comes from such a small sect.
          .
          I don’t believe, from my reading, that employers have the right to restrict religious practice/expression. If you said, “I believe people who commit these eight sins will go to hell,” that’s not intolerant. You’re not saying, “I can’t be your friend because you commit those sins,”, let alone, “I can’t work with you.” If you were sacked for saying it, you’d have a massive case for unfair dismissal.
          .
          Where Folau’s case is different is that people take it as him broadcasting it, forcing it down people’s throats. Even that’s debatable. He said it in a public place, but it wasn’t broadcast. For mine, posting on social media as he did is like putting a sign on your front lawn. It’s there for everyone to see, if they want to look. Some people live in cul-de-sacs, some live on highways. Folau’s social media is more of a highway (whereas I don’t have curated social media pages).
          Some people have horrible signs in their front yards. Some people have something even more offensive – gnomes! But it’s their publicly viewable private space, and they have their right to express themselves.
          .
          I believe in the UN IHR. I’m just very conscious that it’s one thing for public officials to say one thing in public, then have to live with the outcomes of it. Do you believe that the majority of nations – or populations – who signed off on the UN IHR truly act in the manner prescribed by it? When China is suppressing their minorities? When Russia suppresses their minorities? Especially (in both of those countries) their Muslim populations? And that’s just two of the security council countries…
          .
          I think Australia is the best country on the planet, I think we actually care about these things more than most. We’re fair minded. We want the underdog to succeed, we want everyone to have a go. We’re home to the first province in the world to give women the vote, the second in the world behind NZ to give women the vote nationally. We have our shame (treatment of our Indigenous peoples, the White Australia policy, typical violence towards the LGBTIQ+ community, etc), but we recognise it. We recognise we’re racist, and try to improve. That’s not true everywhere.
          .
          So, from that perspective, I think we’re on the right path. But I’m also conscious that humans can only change at a certain rate. We’ve seen more change in the last 250 years than in all time preceding it. We’ve seen more change in the last 75 than we can comprehend. A couple of years ago, my then 5 year old asked me what I watched on iView as a kid. At her age, living in the bush, I had two FTA TV channels!
          But we still make the same mistakes as those who criticise the Luddites. When we find tolerance – or acceptance – and charge towards ‘progress’ in whatever form that might be, we too often immediately lose all tolerance for those who don’t share our views. We become equally intolerant of our parents as they were of their children. This isn’t how you win people, this isn’t how you smooth a transition.
          .
          I have no issue with people being bigots, as long as they can’t impose their wishes on others. Because, ultimately, if they can’t impose that bigotry on others, then that bigotry only ever hurts the bigots. They miss out. When we didn’t engage with anyone not white, Australia was poorer for it. If a baker in the US decides not to sell wedding cakes to gay couples, it only costs them money (it doesn’t hurt the gay couple, who’ll find another supplier and have a great day).
          .
          But to proclaim Folau a Nazi… That’s instant loss of credibility, isn’t it? According to the laws of the internet?
          Hey – he’s got brown skin, holding a version of a faith presented to him by white missionaries. How’s that Nazi? He’s the anti-Aryan!
          .
          The possibility to clarify the line between religious belief and discrimination that can lead to Facism/Nazism is another reason why I wish this thing went to court.

        • iTm

          I don’t need a book to tell me that stuff falls to the ground.

          Nor do I lose credibility for pointing out the similarities between ideologies of fundamentalist religions and the NAZI party in the late 1930’s. Both believe that it is their right to oppress people “not like them”.

          I don’t understand your insistence of going to court to clarify the law. It is there in black and white in both the UN IHR and employment laws. Anti-discrimination takes precedence over religion, there are specific clauses explicitly making this point. Deny them and gravity at your peril. RA executed the spirit of the law.

          The grey area is around an employers right to dictate public behavior, the specific wording of the contract and the definition of what Public means in a modern sense.

          My belief system is supported by Australian law. All people have equal rights, period. I don’t care which Bronze age self help book or swastika laden manifesto you read, there is no excuse to justify the contrary.

          China, Russia and the USA have not adopted the UN IHR Laws and even if they had, their adherence to them is irrelevant, Someone else’s bad behavior doesn’t justify you bad behavior

        • Joe King

          I respect your right to free speech even where it might offend. Although, I do wish both you AND IF could have expressed your opinions in a more gentle way.

        • iTm

          I have no right to free speech if it is impinging on the rights of others. For example, I don’t have the right to say: Christians need to stop practicing your religions or someone will come around and burn down your churches..

          How do you think RA would have reacted if this appeared on Michael Hooper’s social media?
          Do you respect his perceived rights to say this?

        • Joe King

          Thanks for the question iTim. I actually think this is where the discussion needs to go.

          We all have different values, and whether my values come from a religion, the culture I live in at a given point in history, myself, or the animal kingdom, values are not a science. So for instance, what someone genuinely thinks is in someone else’s best interest to hear, another person finds offensive and a terrible thing to say.

          So we need a way forward to prevent the IF kind of situation from happening again. What the outcome of the IF case has shown us is that the strategy that RA has had in place is going to fail again, and if they continue as is, they will need to keep forking out settlement money.

          And of course, this all relates to the broader issue of religious (and civic) freedom of speech going on in our society ATM.

          Personally, I am not sure I believe specifically in ‘religious freedom of speech’. But I believe in ‘freedom of speech’ generally. I believe in a secular pluralistic democracy, where ideas can flourish and persuade, or be critiqued and fall away. That seems the only way to establish peace amidst ideological difference. I think everyone should be free to advocate for their viewpoint using the ordinary means of persuasion (rather than by coercion or power-plays). Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of laws which might curb people’s freedom to persuade others to any viewpoint.

          I do think there should be restrictions around viewpoints that incite hatred and violence against people, but while this needs to be better defined, I don’t think speech should be sanctioned simply because people feel offended or emotionally hurt by it. Otherwise, what ever group is in power can just say that they find a particular viewpoint offensive and restrict people’s freedom to say what they think. I wouldn’t want some extreme fundamentalist group to be in power and then restrict the expression of what I think in this way. This is why freedom of speech is so important to me, because it actually empowers minority and persecuted groups within society. Just imagine if some religious fundamentalist group were in the majority and found speech that encouraged and promoted the acting on same-sex attraction as offensive. Without freedom of speech, they could enforce an end to this. I wouldn’t like that.

          When it comes to bullying, or viewpoints that we think are offensive, I think a much better way forward is to protest against these through social disapproval and defending the bullied with better and more persuasive arguments from the other side, rather than through coercion and power-plays where people are forced to adhere to particular points of view. So frowns rather than force (unless it clearly incites hatred or violence against someone, as I mentioned above).

          So to answer your question, if Hooper said “Christians need to stop practicing your religions or someone will come around and burn down your churches”, then I would want the police to investigate that to see if it could potentially incite violence.

          But when someone says something along the lines of, “Sinners, you are going to Hell, please turn to Jesus before it’s too late because I don’t want you to go to Hell”, I would rather the person who said that just suffer the usual social disapproval, rather than trying to force them to stop saying that kind of thing in their own time outside of work. I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that IF’s personal values don’t align with that of RA. And he’s not impinging on the rights of anyone. He’s not forcing people to stop acting as they please, he’s only using persuasion, which needs to be allowed as I’ve argued above, otherwise (ironically) society potentially becomes more oppressive.

          Likewise, if someone said “Christians… Hell awaits you. Repent!” (officially taught in some religions), or if an atheist said, “Religious folks are an insult to intelligence and a blight on society”, I wouldn’t want them forced to stop either. I would rather others just point out the silliness of such comments. Respecting someone’s right to say something doesn’t mean one approves of it.

          Likewise, if Hooper were an atheist and he made a comment about how stupid theism is and the sponsor was Etiad which happened to be a largely Muslim company with a massive Islamic customer base, then I also wouldn’t approve of RA sacking him because his speech was not ideologically aligned with Etiad.

          Now, please feel free to come back at me on any of this. It’s just a rough sketch of my thoughts, and I think they could be tweaked a bit. The IF case is part of a broader tricky issue, and this is just my opinion.

          BUT please don’t miss the point, this is where the discussion needs to go if it is to be fruitful and productive. The problem with us trying to argue that RA got it exactly right is that they will continue to lose financially if they don’t change their strategy. And I hope no one wants that no one wants.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          He believes things will not go well for some people after death, and he is trying to help them avoid that. It is in black and white, as you say. There is no hate. He is happy to work well with gay people and has done. He has encouraged them to play rugby. Trying to help people, even if misguided, is not discrimination against them.

          Believing that people will be judged on judgement day means that he also believes that it is not for him to judge anyone in spiritual terms or discriminate against them in this life. Their life isn’t over and there can be no judgement. In this life, his beliefs mean he needs to help people and live with them as best as he can.

        • iTm

          Do you honestly think he is just expressing his beliefs? Given the Proselytizing nature of his church and the wording of his posts, it reads a lot more like a threat, or at the very least, an instruction to change your ways.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Yes I know for sure he is just expressing his beliefs and is concerned about people’s well being.

          If I was walking towards a cliff I didn’t know about and someone shouted to me about it, I’d consider it an attempt to help. If it turned out the cliff wasn’t there, it’s a misguided attempt to help.

          If he makes an attention grabing sign “death awaits -cliff ahead – turn back” and puts it in a flat public park without any cliff within kms, then he’s a wacko, but still trying to help.

          His post has a confronting form of words and format, and that style probably breaks the RA code, but the literal meaning doesn’t.

          He expressed much the same thing in his players voice article, and RA explicitly approved that prior to publication. It was written in much more normal language.

        • iTm

          Are you comfortable drawing an equivalency between homosexuality and atheism to walking off a cliff? Our laws say otherwise.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          It’s just a discussion point to illlustrate Izzy’s world view. I think it does that, and I’m comfortable with that use of the analogy.

          With tegard to the law, I’m not aware that it has anything to say about imaginary cliffs. The law gives some protection to homosexuality and religion and atheism. In the case of atheism, it is a bit ironic that atheism draws its protection from religious discrimination provisions.

          It’s not clear to many people how the various legal protections interact. Hence the controversy.

        • iTm

          I understand the religious ethos, but let’s be realistic, the messaging was: Change, Apologize or you will tortured for eternity. It wasn’t worded as: here are my beliefs.

          For those that believe in god, this is extortion, a threat or at the very least intimidation.
          His beliefs give him the right to think this way, but if he is going to say it publicly, his employer and the public have a right to react,

  • Adrian

    Good article Brendan.

    Mind you, I don’t believe that Folau believes in anything much except hatred, money and his father.

    He painted himself into a corner and couldn’t get out. Good.

    No need for anyone to reply, because these are my opinions, and you may well have your own

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hey Adrian. With you 100% on this. Glad to see the arse end of him

  • Neil Pocock

    Brendan Hill……. I think you should be ashamed of yourself! Your article is so full of half truths,inacuracies and about the most biased personal diatribe you could possably write about such a hot topic!
    If I replied to the whole article it’d be longer than one of WHOs often insighfull and carefully worded comments/essays!
    So I’ll just sum it up by saying as you CLEARLY sit on RAs side of the fence on this one…… not Rugby’s side, not the Fans side or even other honest hardworking religious players of various faiths……. YOU and your RA hierarchy firmly LOST this battle no matter how much spin and fairy dust yous try putting on this one!
    Once again I truly expected more from GnGR!

    • Happyman

      Neil take a pill and have a lie down read a book I think I know which it will be probably the old one.

      No one has won out of this just degrees of loss.

      • Neil Pocock

        Problem is your allready onto me……. took my tablets, had a lie down, and then read this rubbish! But your right the whole thing is a terrible embarasing mess for Rugby!

        • Happyman

          Actually Neil

          I think Rugby handled this well.

          Good riddance to bad rubbish in my view but that does not fit your narrative.

    • iTm

      How many other hardworking religious players have attacked protected groups?
      None… Ok.
      There are a tonne of religious activities such as prayer circles that have not been restricted, so it is clear that religion is respected, with one simple provision, – that it is respectful to others….
      Not sure how you can claim a victory. On paper, Folau withdrew his lawsuit and both parties apologized to each other, Smells a lot like Folau was motivated by money and not his principles.
      Word on the street that ACL are giving back the fighting fund donations “Pro Rata” meaning that they already spent a chunk of the cash on Lawyers and admin. None of which is coming out of Folau’s settlement, meaning it either isn’t enough or he is too greedy to give it back to his supporters.

      • Brendan Hill

        Please see “Sonny Bill Williams” for an example of a high profile, firmly religious rugby player expressing their faith in a non-discriminatory and inclusive fashion.

      • Neil Pocock

        Wow where do we start here…..”attacked” or “protected groups”……..talk about stretching the truth.

  • iTm

    Great Article!
    It succinctly and eloquently expresses my thoughts on the matter, …minus the expletives.

    I think it is disappointing that Folau has publicly claimed a victory and vindication and called for changes to legislation.

    I would have liked to have seen it go to court to re-enforce that employers can set a code of conduct and moral standards that can’t be trumped by Religious doctrine. That said, I understand and support RA’s decision not to go ahead from a business perspective, provided that the payout is on the short side of $1 Million and not the $14 million figure that has been used to farm clicks on some “news” sites.

    Every piece of legislation, including the freedom of speech clause in the UN’s International Human Rights Laws says that you can’t discriminate against religion. But there is a catch, they all have a caveat, – Provided that exercising of that religion does not violate the other discrimination provisions.
    The Law makers saw this one coming a mile off.
    Izzy wants these protection clauses removed, good luck with that.
    It is his doctrine that doesn’t conform with the law, not the other way round. The rewrite needs to be done in his house, not ours.

  • NSWelsham in London

    Let this be the last time this wanker is mentioned on this site…… Lets focus on the footy in 2020 and an Australian only Super Rugby final (hopefully with a tahs win :-) ), an irish Clean sweep, a Bledisloe win, Rugby Championship Trophy and undefeated Northern Hemisphere Tour….

    • iTm

      You forgot about the launch of Global Rapid Rugby. Let’s See Tim Sampson’s Western Force do well also.

  • Custard Taht

    So if being in public and being at work aren’t the same thing, then why should a workplace agreement be relevant outside of work, just because you are in public.

    I think it would be reasonable to assert that because he did not say, as a wallaby, as waratah, he thought he did make those comments in a private capacity.

    The only mistake he made, was having a photo of him playing rugby as his profile picture, which was pretty stupid.

    Ultimatey, Folau would not have felt compelled to make his original post, if RA did not take it upon themselves to speak on behalf of all of their employees, knowing that perhaps not all their employees would share those beliefs.

    If RA were allowed to share their belief publicly, why should Folau not be allowed to share his belief.

    Employees are not possessions and the employer does not own them. But it seems as though society is happy to have employers act as judge, jury and executioner, for matters outside the workplace and work hours.

    • Who?

      Conversely, CT, do you reckon that Folau would’ve copped it if his profile picture hadn’t been himself playing Rugby..? That people would’ve claimed he wasn’t fulfilling his contractual obligations to the game by promoting it at every opportunity..?
      .
      I think there’s times when we can’t please everyone, and times when, as humans, we don’t give each other a chance. We want to be judged on the intentions behind our actions, but judge everyone else on the worst outcomes of their actions. We could all (and this goes for Folau and against Folau, and for and against myself) stand to be kinder.

      • Custard Taht

        I would like to think if he is instagram account was football free, he would not have copped it, as there would have been clean air between Folau the man and Folau the footballer. Unfortunately by mixing the two, he opened himself up.

        Exactly, but unfortunately social media has made things worse when it comes to this.

        • Who?

          Might not have been as clear as I’d like there. I meant, if he hadn’t had a photo of himself playing Rugby, I feel that people would’ve complained (before the controversial posts) that he wasn’t doing his job, and that would’ve been a major controversy. “He’s not proud of the game, maybe he still prefers AFL/League, why isn’t he wearing a Wallabies jersey to promote his employer?!”
          I think he was all but obligated to maintain a Rugby presence on his social media, even though he effectively curated it as a personal page.

        • Custard Taht

          That is why many NFL teams tell players to have two accounts, one for football and one for private, and never let the two mix.

          It makes complete sense, but it relies on people being able to differentiate between the player and the person, and unfortunately I don’t think many Australians are capable of such objectivity.

          It is staggering that so many people think an employer has the right to sign away your rights, and control your life outside work.

          Can’t say many people would be happy for your employer to tell you what you can and can’t do outside of work, yet seem ok with your employer telling you what you can and can’t say outside of work.

    • iTm

      As I said in my post, when you sign an agreement to be the public face of an organization, you mutually agree, in exchange for payment, to conform to a particular code of conduct in public.

      If you work this problem backwards, if he was ethical, he would be handing back the millions that RA have paid him to act like a civilized human to give himself the freedom to spout his bronze age hate and intolerance.

      Folou’s jersey in his social media profile is no accident, it is part of the mechanism to inflate his, and Australian rugby’s profile and media presence. A profile that he was paid handsomely for.

      I think there is a misconception that public figures have free speech. Even Shock Jock, Alan Jones has restrictions to what he is allowed to say. If he started making blatantly racist or sexist social media posts, he would be off the air the very next day.

  • paul
  • I fully support Folau. He is a good dude, who shares beliefs that might be different to yours, but they come from a genuine place of love and compassion. Great rugby player and athlete too. It is a huge shame for rugby he is no longer playing the game.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Great post. Not so sure on the “one of the best players in the world” I’m more of the “one of the most over rated players in the world”

    Personally now that Cheika is gone I don’t think any of the current players who have demonstrated time after time that they don’t recognise their weaknesses and don’t improve on their deficiencies will have much of a career. Rennie is unlikely to accept poorly performing players to keep their place just because of their name or their club affiliation. I think while most of them have gone now I think there’s a few that are going to get a short sharp wake up

    • Brendan Hill

      I lean towards “potentially one of the greatest wingers of recent times played out of position for most of his Wallabies career” … but that is a separate discussion.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I’m more with you on that one although his lack of work ethic would always prevent him being as good as he could have been

        • Brendan Hill

          To be fair, where was his incentive to improve? He was going to be picked every week regardless of form or actual performance.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah and that has been a problem with Cheika from day one. While loyalty is a great attribute he took it too far

      • iTm

        14’s have a tacticaly kick and game vision. Folou is probably a 13, but since his defense is non-existent, he is unsuitable. With the exception of a 9 or 10, if you can’t defend, you are a liability on the field. Even 9’s and 10’s make a nuance of themselves disrupting the opposition or covering the second fullback position.

    • iTm

      Well said. I read article after article, post after post about how he would make the world 15 and is the greatest fullback. Most world class coaches recognize and fear his attacking skills but none would want him on their team. For every 10 points he scores, he gives away 15 due to deficiencies in the rest of his game or to the positional disruption required to have him on the field.
      “2 tries in every game” is meaningless when your side loses.
      Better than Ben Smith? No way

  • Bulldog Sing

    Great article – great summary.

    I think you forget this whole shitstorm is for the kids, the impressionable people looking up to someone. I can deal with being told I am going to hell – because hey I am an adult.

    Being emotionally bought into RA and how its run probably means you are well past your days as an impressionable 16 y/o trying to figure the world out.

  • Joe King

    I just think it’s such a difficult issue to discuss because people have different values (for a start!). What someone genuinely thinks is in someone else’s best interest to hear, another person finds offensive and a terrible thing to say.

    Many of us might have thought that the obvious solution would be for a sporting body (or any organisation) to determine what its values are, and then have the right to enforce those values, or at least discipline employees who speak or act in any way contrary to them.

    But what the outcome of this case seems to be showing us is that this solution (on its own) is not going to hold up in particular cases.

    Whether the religious discrimination bill is the answer or not, I don’t know. It seems some religious spokespeople themselves have criticised it.

    But what we still need is some way of navigating this kind of issue, because as it stands, it is only going to happen again.

    • Neil Pocock

      And where you started your comment is exactly where the conversation should end. People have diff values and beliefs. End of story. Unless those beliefs are calling directly to acts of violence then anyone who disrespects their beliefs are doing exactly what they CLAIM they’re preventing. Exclusion/Inclusion……

      • Joe King

        Yes, I agree. There is some irony in the way many of the comments that are taking aim at IF for ‘hate speech’ are actually doing the same thing. And so, we really need to agree on a way forward. Perhaps we should allow for free speech as long as it doesn’t incite violence. Is that what you are suggesting?

  • Joe King

    “I would have loved watching Folau take his case to the courts, and lose”

    Except I really don’t think RA felt confident that he would.

    • iTm

      As Brendan explained in the article, it comes down to risk and cost, both financial and in reputation. RA’s Lawyers were heavily consulted before they fired the trigger, the knew they were on solid footing. They will have done a risk assessment and come up with a number they can live with.

      • Joe King

        That in no way persuades me RA were confident of winning.

      • Joe King

        That doesn’t at all convince me that RA were confident of winning.

    • Neil Pocock

      Assuming you haven’t thought that through very far because if they somehow won that……. which I doubt sincerely…… the impacts would be immense on this country and it’s employee laws

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Why would any sane person take theological advise from a sports person with no theological training? If Izzy tells me how to catch an up and under well then I will listen, however when it comes to maths, theology and philosophy etc there are much better minds out there.

    • iTm

      I wouldn’t take his advice on tackling, tactical kicking or the defensive roles of a fullback either.
      Unfortunately, Folau has (had) 10’s of thousands of followers, many of them young and impressionable. Believing that the sun shines out of his…..
      With great power comes great responsibility, and in my opinion he abused this power. Ultimately Platform that RA gave him also had a noose.

      • Human

        How do you know the profile of his social media fans?

      • Neil Pocock

        Abused his power by sharing his beliefs when asked about them…… Yeah righto mate

Wallabies
@BHillSport

Just a die hard rugby tragic from West of the Nullabor with a penchant for the written word. Happy to talk anyones ear off about anything to do with this great game, as many a poor work colleague has discovered over the years.

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