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Date set for Folau's showdown with Rugby Australia

Author
Newstalk ZB, news.com.au ,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 4:59p.m.
Israel Folau will learn his fate within two weeks. (Photo / Getty)

Israel Folau will have his showdown with Rugby Australia on the first weekend of May as the governing body confirmed Saturday May 4 as the date for the Code of Conduct hearing between them and arguably the Wallabies' biggest star.

The hearing will be heard by a three-member panel consisting of John West QC (Chair), Kate Eastman SC, and John Boultbee SC at Rugby Australia headquarters in Sydney on May 4.

Sunday 5 May has also been reserved in the event the hearing is required to extend to a second day.

The 30-year-old is fighting for his four-year, $4 million deal after Rugby Australia issued the superstar dual international with a termination notice on April 10 for his social media activity.

The hearing was requested by Folau after Rugby Australia issued him with a breach notice over his controversial and homophobic social media post on Instagram on April 10.

Folau infamously posted that "those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him."

In the post he targeted "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators" warning "Hell awaits you."

The post drew the ire of many not only on social media but also in sports and the media.

Several of his Wallabies teammates, including vice-captain Will Genia have expressed their dissatisfaction with Folau and the way he aired his viewpoints in the public eye.

RA chief executive officer Raelene Castle has stressed the action taken against Folau is about the issue of the responsibilities an employee owes to their employer rather than punishment for his religious beliefs.

"This is not a religious discussion," Castle told reporters in Sydney on Monday afternoon.

"This is a discussion around the employee, employer relationship and the values and the contractual arrangements within that agreement, that's on the basis on which we have served him a breach notice."

Castle also confirmed that Folau didn't have a social media clause in his contract as was previously reported, but that there was a "verbal and written" informal agreement.

"Not within the contract but there was a number of meetings, documented meetings, that were put in writing, both verbally and in writing to Israel about our expectations," Castle said.

"Yes, he agreed to them."

Justin Gleeson SC will be RA's counsel representing the organisation at the hearing.

Gleeson acted for RA in a successful defence of its decision to axe the Force from Super Rugby in 2017.

NSW Waratahs fly half and teammate of Folau, Bernard Foley said last week that he was "conflicted" about the situation.

"He has hurt the team which is not why we play sport. We are a team and we encourage diversity and everything," Foley said ahead of last weekend's game.

"But I also don't think Izzy is a bad guy. So there is a lot of conflict there."

If he fails to win his case it is likely Folau's sporting career in Australia might be done after ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie said he would not welcome Folau back to rugby league.

 

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