Folau, Rugby Australia talks collapse

UPDATE: Israel Folau and Rugby Australia failed to reach an agreement in today's conciliation meeting at the Fair Work Commission in Sydney.

Leaving the building shortly after 1pm alongside his legal team, Folau said he was "very disappointed" in the result.

"Look, we're very, very disappointed about the outcome today," he said.

"But I'd like to thank all those who supported me in this time and I'll continue to stand up for the freedom of all Australians."

"It appears as though, unless things change, then we will be heading for court," Folau's lawyer George Haros told reporters.

Folau's dispute with the governing body of rugby will now proceed to a formal hearing.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle avoided the media, taking the lift down to her car and driving off as soon as the meeting finished.

Folau's team pushed through the throng of reporters at the front, eventually reaching two hire cars, a sleek black Mercedes van and a Holden Caprice.

Not realising the vehicles were waiting for him, Folau started to power down William Street, but was quickly called back by his lawyer.

Folau walked into the building hours earlier, about 9.30 this morning, to take the first step in his multimillion dollar legal battle.

The football star arrived in a taxi with his legal team minutes before his conciliation hearing was due to start, dressed in a black suit, buttondown shirt and red tie.

Due to a heavy media scrum and nowhere to park, the taxi sped up William Street away from the entrance to the building.

After sitting in the taxi for a few minutes, Wallabies fullback and his team left the vehicle and began the walk back down the hill. They were immediately surrounded by cameras and reporters.

"I'm hoping for an apology. I'd be happy with that," Folau told journalists on his way to the entrance.

The sacked football star cracked a brief smile when a morning commuter told him he was praying for him.

"God goes with you brother," the man said, before walking away.

"Thanks mate," Folau replied, looking back and smiling


EARLIER: RUGBY Australia (RA) has denied offering Israel Folau money to take down his controversial Instagram post after the Wallabies outcast made the explosive claim in his first public interview since the scandal broke.

Folau was sacked for a code of conduct breach when he posted on social media gay people would go to hell. He has since moved to take legal action against RA for wrongful termination and added fuel to the fire by starting a GoFundMe page that was later removed, only to be replaced by a fundraising initiative launched by the Australian Christian Lobby that has so far raised more than $2.2 million.

Speaking to Alan Jones on Sky News on Thursday night, Folau said he wants an apology from RA so he can continue his career and claimed his religious faith is "who I am". He also said the governing body offered him money to take down his original Instagram post - an accusation RA has rejected.

"Following comments made on Alan Jones' television show tonight, any suggestion that Rugby Australia offered Israel Folau money to remove a post made on April 10, 2019, is completely untrue," RA said in a statement.

The denial comes as Folau and his legal team prepare to meet with Rugby Australia and its lawyers at a conciliation meeting at the Fair Work Commission today. If the parties can't reach an agreement, there will then be a hearing with the Commission with the possibility of the case going to the Federal Court after that.


Israel Folau pictured leaving the Foxtel Headquarters in Macquarie Park.
Israel Folau pictured leaving the Foxtel Headquarters in Macquarie Park.

Earlier on Thursday RA chief Raelene Castle spoke for the first time since the furore erupted over Folau's GoFundMe saga.

"Rugby Australia has acted with complete professionalism and integrity at all times through the process by which Israel was found, by an independent three-member tribunal panel, to have made multiple, serious breaches of the Professional Players Code of Conduct," Castle's statement read.

"The panel found the breaches constituted a high level and directed Rugby Australia to terminate Israel's contract."

Folau wants an admission from RA it was "wrong" to sack him and reiterated once again his views are not personal but rather are dictated to him by the bible, and come from a place of love.

In his interview, the 30-year-old also compared gay people to drug addicts, saying: "I can certainly see it from both sides. If I had a child who was a drug addict I would still love my child without anything attached to that."

The comparison was not well received on Twitter.




Folau said he and his wife Maria - who was dragged into the scandal after directing people to the footy star's fundraising efforts on her own social media channels - have been going through a tough time but thanked the "amazing" support he's received from the public and those close to him.

On the criticism of his wife, Folau said: "She's been dragged into this situation unexpectedly and it's been very frustrating for her. I'm lucky she's a strong woman and same as me, convicted by her faith."

Folau's interview aired on the day NSW Rugby Union chairman Roger Davis called for Folau and RA to settle their dispute outside the courtroom.

"You can die for a principle or be pragmatic. No one is going to win here," Davis said, per the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It is in the best interests of the game to mediate a solution to this, but it will require both sides to move off their preferred position.

"We understand the sensitivities that everyone has but we would hope there is a pragmatic solution here that respects every side of the debate."

Shortly before Folau appeared on TV on Thursday, Australian celebrity Magda Szubanski took to Instagram to give an update on how her rival campaign is travelling. After Folau launched his GoFundMe page, Szubanski started one in opposition called For Love, which is comprised of people from different religious backgrounds and LGBTQI people and is raising money for charity.

The initiative has raised upwards of $200,000.



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