A simple solution to the Folau dilemma

Oliver Matthews Roar Guru

By Oliver Matthews, Oliver Matthews is a Roar Guru

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156 Have your say

    So, it happened again. As many predicted, Israel Folau has shared some contentious religious views via social media and the spotlight has been shone brightly on Rugby Australia and Raelene Castle.

    Unsurprisingly, there has been a huge amount of debate about the topic and how RA should respond.

    Do they punish him? Do they let it go until Alan Joyce kicks up a fuss? Do they stay very still and hope that Tim Paine takes a razor blade onto the field and the media’s attention moves on?

    People have claimed that there’s nothing that could be done or should be done. Folau has a right to say what he feels and while many, including RA, might not agree with the specific message, they respect his right to say it.

    Others are saying that Folau’s tweet is offensive and hate-filled and should be met with a harsh punishment from RA, no matter how big a talent he is.

    Over the past day, I’ve been trying to think about what Castle should do. Her words on Wednesday were diplomatic and measured, as she sensibly looked to buy time to consider a response and maybe ask herself why on Earth she said yes to the CEO gig.

    Raelene Castle at a Rugby Australia press conference

    Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle. (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

    But the answer seems pretty straightforward.

    My assumption is that Folau’s contract with RA is made up of different elements. One of those elements is likely to be for his actual rugby playing and all that entails – training, camps, travel, matches etc.

    Other elements will include his work as an ambassador and marketing asset for RA and brands that sponsor the Wallabies – Qantas, for example.

    RA have made it clear that they respect Folau’s right to have his views and communicate them to others. They have also made it clear that they think differently to him on some of those views.

    Therefore, RA can say, “We respect and value you as a player. We want you to continue to be a Wallaby and we will pay you in return for your efforts on the rugby side of things.

    “However, your views on some key topics are different to our brands’ views and the views of some of our sponsors on those same topics. Therefore you will no longer be asked to be part of or paid for being part of RA or the Wallabies’ media, marketing and brand activities.”

    Israel Folau Australia Rugby Union Championship Bledisloe Cup Wallabies 2017

    Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

    This seems a sensible way to strike the balance. RA can respect Folau’s right to his views, allow him to continue to play rugby for Australia if he wants to, and he’d be well paid for doing so as he is a great talent.

    But they can also make it clear that there is a significant misalignment between each parties’ views on important matters and therefore it would be inappropriate to ask and reward Folau to represent RA and the Wallabies in media and marketing activities.

    As long as he treats his fellow players with respect and his performance in training and on the field does not drop, let the guy play and pay him for it. But when it comes to being paid primarily for being an ambassador and extension of the RA brand, Folau doesn’t seem to fit any longer, because of his views.

    That’s fine. RA don’t need to tell him he’s wrong for having those views, they don’t need to try and stop him from sharing them in his own time on his own channels. But they can say “your views are not aligned with ours and for our marketing we need alignment”.

    This approach also means they don’t need to punish Folau for past actions, but rather renegotiate his remuneration to better fit the role he will be taking on.

    There has been talk about how important Folau is to the Wallabies, especially with the World Cup just over a year away. But as gets said all the time when scandals about high-profile individuals hit sports, the game is bigger than just one person.

    The decisions that Castle and RA make are not about protecting Folau’s rights to say what he wants to say – that’s the government’s job. RA and Castle need to make sure that they are protecting and promoting the game of rugby in Australia, and they can do that while also respecting Folau’s choice to say what he believes.

    This approach is not perfect, however it ticks a lot of boxes and is at least RA doing something rather than waiting on some other scandal to hijack the spotlight.

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    The Crowd Says (156)

    • May 10th 2018 @ 9:36am
      RTT said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      My only criticism of Raelene is that she should simply refuse to comment on a mans religious beliefs.

      • Roar Guru

        May 10th 2018 @ 10:26am
        Mango Jack said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        That his comments are based on religious beliefs is irrelevant. It’s the fact that they are targeting a section of the community, one that RA and other sports are trying hard to reach out to. His comments, however disguised, are incompatible with his employer’s policy.

        • May 10th 2018 @ 10:46am
          RTT said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

          They are not targeting at all.

          That’s the spin you are allowing on yourself.

          The sermon he linked to is a sermon on repentance and baptism. A small portion was about gay people.

          The original mention of Hell was a question relating to a post he made about God’s path.

          Btw he’s been tweeting stuff like this for years. I recall him mentioning heaven and hell before. He believes in them. He believes sinners that don’t repent will go to hell. As all christians do.

          So what.

          Just don’t follow him on Twitter is my suggestion to you.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 10:52am
            jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

            Newsflash Arty – not all christians believe in hell.

            Is pretty clear that Izzy’s branch believe in it – but please stop suggesting that Folau’s version of christianity is anything like the majority christian view.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 11:02am
              Fionn said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

              Jeznez, he just says that all Christians who do not share Folau’s views are not real Christians. In one particular thread I had him admit that Archbishop Desmond Tutu didn’t believe that gay people were going to hell and he simply said that he didn’t think “Archbishop” Desmond Tutu was a Christian anymore.

              Fairly duplicitous by RTT – justifying Folau’s views on the grounds of religion, and then saying that no one else is allowed to have alternative religious views.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 11:07am
                piru said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

                Same argument often used with Hitler.
                He was evil, therefore not a christian.
                All that evidence that he was demonstrably a christian?
                not relevant

                It’s a very convenient get out of jail card they’ve fashioned for themselves

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 11:40am
                PeterK said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

                I can’t believe the number of people who give RTT any air on any post BTW, on rugby or Folaus’ comments or tahs.

                By responding you give him the attention he craves.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 11:54am
                Fionn said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

                Peter, you’re right. Thank you. I’ll try and keep that in mind more in the future.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 4:17pm
                Sage said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                Yes Peter. Attention seeking, belligerent, identity altering and annoying

              • May 10th 2018 @ 7:19pm
                Ruckin Oaf said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

                Hey Piru,

                Often referred to as the no true Scotsman fallacy.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 7:35pm
                Just Nuisance said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

                Think it was also Tutu (under correction here ) who said he would rather go to hell than heaven in order to comfort those who are suffering.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 12:07pm
              Tom English said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

              Most, if not all christians believe in hell.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:19pm
                jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                I’ll allow you ‘many’ definitely not ‘all’ – I’m not even certain it is the majority.

                The concept of eternal hell doesn’t really fit with a loving creator.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:23pm
                piru said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

                What I don’t get is why the devil would punish bad people, wouldn’t they be his mates?

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:41pm
                jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

                So true Piru.

                Lucifer Morningstar is sent to hell for defying God and being jealous of humanity. Once there he obeys God’s will and punishes those that disobey the capitalised one.

                I guess it is Stockholm Syndrome?

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:47pm
                piru said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

                Bet you they are really just partying down there.

                The torment is just a front so god leaves them alone.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 1:02pm
                jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

                Must be right – can’t trust the church with their fake news about damnation

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 2:34pm
                piru said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

                Imagine you’re greeted at the gate by the devil looking scary but then he puts his hand on your shoulder, shuts the door and says – let me show you to your room, Jim Morrison and David Bowie are on tonight, see Hunter S for any refreshments. Dinner is at 10pm and it’s all red meat.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 9:32pm
                jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

                Thommo, someone’s turned up the thermostat, chuck us a cold beer!

              • May 11th 2018 @ 10:48am
                goat said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                Completely agree with this.
                To say that belief in hell is not part of mainline Christian theology is to have a smorgasbord attitude to Christianity (and religion in general): you pick and choose what you want. That’s not treating that religion with respect. It’s you imposing on that religion what you think it should be.
                What has been commonly considered Christian theology, across denominations, for centuries is summarised in the creeds. The Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed mention hell.
                For what it’s worth, Folau later referred to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 when he spoke about practices disqualifying you from the kingdom of heaven. It’s a broad list, not just homosexual practice. If you manage to read it, verse 11 is the good bit.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 11th 2018 @ 10:52am
                piru said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

                jez I reckon I could start my own church on that basis

            • May 11th 2018 @ 7:55pm
              terrence said | May 11th 2018 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

              which christians are you talking bout?..hell and heaven are christian constructs..

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 11:00am
            Mango Jack said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            I actually watched the vid. Most of it was waffle, but 2 sins were specifically mentioned. Inequality and homosexuality. So in a world of greed, civilian slaughter in places like Syria, human slavery and environmental degradation, he chooses being gay as right up there in the list of sins.

            Fanatics like this guy, and those who unquestioningly follow him, are obsessed with sexuality for some bizarre reason.

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 11:41am
              PeterK said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

              Iniquity not inequality.

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 11:47am
              jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

              Iniquity MJ.

              Don’t forget railing against tolerance and being very unhappy there wasn’t enough Fear.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:25pm
                Mango Jack said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

                OK, I heard inequality, but iniquity sounds more his gig.

                Too much fear is barely enough! Keeps the faithful in line.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:43pm
                jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

                I misheard it the first time he said it as well but he repeats himself and it is clearly the other.

                I don’t think Mr ‘not enough fear’ and ‘let’s end tolerance’ was all that worried about inequality!


          • May 10th 2018 @ 1:20pm
            Jay (the other one) said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

            Oh, so just a “small portion” makes it all ok then. Got it. There you go folks, case closed.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 4:24pm
        i miss the force said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

        just as boring and unintelligent as you were a few weeks ago

      • May 10th 2018 @ 5:02pm
        Leonard said | May 10th 2018 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

        ‘Not comment on religious beliefs’ – but what if she really is the Vicar of Dibley in between parishes?

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 5:35am
        Timbo (L) said | May 11th 2018 @ 5:35am | ! Report

        I agree,
        But she should be free to comment on his opinions on gay rights and status in the community.
        My Atheist father had the same opinion on this matter. That made him an intolerant bigot.
        Being a member of a fundamentalist cult doesn’t change that.

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2018 @ 9:39am
      Alan Nicolea said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      A fascinating approach Oliver. Definitely something worth considering.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 10:01am
      cantab said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      Oliver’s method and RTT’s above are both valid options that could have worked.
      But from where we are now it’s too late for either, I think RA only option is to let him go, your highest paid player should be adding the most value – not giving you the most headaches.

      I really thought after the first tweet Folau would just stop tweeting about it and we could all move on. He didn’t need to apologies, or change his views or stop voicing them in private.
      But just stop making anti-gay twitter posts from his official account.

    • May 10th 2018 @ 10:07am
      Lorry said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      I think this is a great idea!!!

      Then we’ll see how much money matters to this self-professed humble guy…

    • May 10th 2018 @ 10:25am
      red and green said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      I don’t see why religion is seen by some as a good excuse for bigotry. Some white churches past and present have preached white supremacy. Would we tolerate a religious white supremacist rugby player spouting bigoted views but not a political white supremacist doing the same? Political ideology and religious ideology should be treated the same, in my view.

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2018 @ 10:30am
      Mango Jack said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      Interesting idea, but I see 2 problems. Firstly, how would they determine the value of his marketing vs playing? Second, it sets a precedent. Should Nick Phipps, for example, have his salary reduced because his recent misdemeanors mean he can’t be used in promotions for a while? It’s a legal minefield I reckon.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 12:21pm
        Christo the Daddyo said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        Playing – a basic wage. No expectations of off-field behaviour.
        Marketing – a percentage of the sponsorship income. Tied to behavioral clauses.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 2:31pm
          JamesH said | May 10th 2018 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          Trouble is, the terms of his current contract might not allow for any easy separation or reduction. Izzy is probably just paid a particular sum (plus match fees and perhaps bonuses) with an unattached requirement that he participates in promotional and community activities. I suppose they could try to negotiate his next contract differently – assuming he wants one.

          There’s also the Qantas problem. They may not feel that this course of action is adequate, since Izzy will still be running around with the Qantas logo on his kit… and probably has no intention of silencing himself any time soon.

          On the bright side, at least he’s not the AFL’s headache anymore.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 4:19pm
            Mango Jack said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

            Yes, I see problems in having this sort of “special” contract for him. Does it mean they cannot use match video clips that show Folau scoring a try, for example? If they do, he may be able to claim for it. It’s a minefield.

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 4:28pm
              Ralph said | May 10th 2018 @ 4:28pm | ! Report


              If you are RA you don’t want a huge legal explosion, calls for sacking reprimand and so forth are just people blowing of steam. It can’t happen in the real world of employment law, high profile civil law suits and media circuses outside court houses. And these things go on for months and years.

          • May 10th 2018 @ 6:02pm
            Leonard said | May 10th 2018 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

            “There’s also the Qantas problem” – a problem they brought upon themselves, with their self-righteous moralistic grandstanding and very look-at-me virtue signalling.

            Isn’t their core business of maintaining a 100% ratio of landings to takeoffs enough of a responsibility?

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 5:37am
        Timbo (L) said | May 11th 2018 @ 5:37am | ! Report

        Phipps got fined and demoted.

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