Heather du Plessis-Allan: If the NRL wants to sign Israel Folau, they can

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Feb 2021, 4:59PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: If the NRL wants to sign Israel Folau, they can

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Feb 2021, 4:59PM

As far as I’m concerned if the Illawarra Dragons want to sign Israel Folau, they can sign Israel Folau. 

I’m not saying that because I like the guy or because I agree with him. I found them offensive on behalf of the gay people I know and love, and I found them offensive on behalf of the Christian community he’s wrongly painted as a bunch of haters.

But, having said that.  If the club wants to sign him they can. 

Because it doesn’t actually matter what I think.  I’m not a Dragons fan.  And unless you are a Dragons fan it doesn’t really matter what you think either. 

What matters is what the club fans and the sponsors say.  Because this is a business decision.  It’s not an appointing-the-head-prefect decision. 

By the sounds of things the sponsors are all on board.  One is a bit nervous but reportedly isn’t pulling support. 

Fans are divided.  Some are really not loving it.  And this is probably what it’ll ultimately come down to.  Are there enough fans who like the call to outweigh those who hate it? 

In other words, is Israel Folau’s signing going to bring in more ticket sales and eyeballs - aka money – than it’ll lose?

I’d say the Dragons know full well the risks they’re taking.  They must know this could blow up on them given Folau broke his promise to Rugby Australia to keep his hateful comments off social media, twice.  So the Dragons could wear it if they bring him on and he does it again.  So they must’ve factored that in. 

If you don’t subscribe to a this-is-business argument, and you think they should make this decision based on moral obligations then let me ask you this: how much do you punish him for what he’s done?  Hasn’t he already taken his 12 lashes? 

He lost his contract with Rugby Australia, he’s now taking a significant pay cut if this deal goes through, his reputation has taken a deserved trashing.  Should he be punished forever? 

Of course, we have to say, this is not a done deal yet.  Either side might yet pull out. But if he’s keen, they’re keen, and the sponsors and fans are keen, they’re more than entitled to sign him up. 

As offensive as he is to some, including myself, we’re not tuning in to watch him display his intellectual heft, we’re tuning in to watch him perform as an outstanding athlete.