As expected, Waratahs and Wallabies utility back Israel Folau will challenge his breach notice from Rugby AU.
A code of conduct hearing will now take place to determine whether Folau’s contract will be terminated or not. It’s unclear at this time when the hearing will be held, however, with the Easter long weekend and Anzac Day coming up, it may be difficult to slot it into the next week.
Under RA guidelines, the hearing will involve a panel of three, being a representative of RA, a representative of the players’ union and an independent person approved by both organisations, who would be the chair.
A Rugby Australia media release states that the RUPA and RA will now make arrangements for the hearing.
Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle said it was not an unexpected outcome.
“Isreal has responded formally today to request a Code of Conduct hearing which, under the circumstances, was not an unexpected outcome. We will now work to confirm a date for the hearing as soon as possible,” said Castle.
“After the date for the hearing is confirmed Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union will make no further comment on the matter until the Code of Conduct process has concluded.”
After a social media post last week, Folau found himself in hot water, before Rugby AU stepped in on Monday, issuing a breach notice to the star player.
The integrity unit deemed Folau committed a high-level breach of the professional players’ code of conduct, warranting termination of his contract.
The breach notice gave 48 hours to respond, with the star following through on the widely expected course of action.
When handing out the breach notice, Castle said Folau was unapologetic about his actions, while confirming it was not Folau’s first offence of the social media policy.
“Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations,” said Castle.
Folau himself told the Sydney Morning Herald that he would have no regrets if this was the end of his playing career.
“First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever he wants me to do, I believe his plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it,” said Folau.
Folau may still face an uphill battle to retain his contract at the code of conduct hearing.
It’s been reported that Rugby Australia didn’t insert any social media clauses into his contract, however, a spokeswoman for The Workplace Employment Lawyers said RA can argue Folau breached contract by going against legally correct directions.