Israel Folau’s decision to fight Rugby Australia tearing up his contract after another homophobic rant on social media has set up a code of conduct hearing sometime in the next fortnight after the Easter and Anzac Day break.
A three-strong code of conduct panel has yet to be selected, with a Rugby Australia representative, a Players Association representative and an independent chairman.
Folau’s answer to just one question from the chairman would decide his rugby future.
“Why did you break a promise to Raelene Castle, Rugby Australia’s CEO, that you would never again make any homophobic rants on social media?”.
The answer will be of particular significance as lying is one of eight Folau accusations that have him in trouble, along with “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” all going to hell.
If the answer doesn’t cut the mustard with the code of conduct panel, Folau rides into the rugby sunset forever, minus the balance of his four-year, $4 million contract while severely denting the Wallabies World Cup and Waratah Super Rugby campaigns.
But if the panel supports Folau’s answer, it opens up a massive mountain of problems.
Will Qantas, a Wallabies major sponsor at $4 million a year and strong supporter of gay marriage and LGBTI rights, pull the pin on a cash-strapped Rugby Australia?
Or will the negative reaction to Folau among the Wallabies players render him unselectable, making him the highest paid spectator in rugby’s history as he watches his former teammates compete on television from the comfort of his lounge room?
There are a few standing in Folau’s corner, such as Wallabies halfback legend Nick Farr-Jones; current Wallabies Samu Kerevi, Allan Alaalatoa and Curtis Rona; and former Wallabies coach and broadcasting legend Alan Jones.
But the list of those condemning Folau grows by the day.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika reckons he can never pick Folau again because the Wallabies play for and represent all Australians.
Current Wallabies captain Michael Hooper would rather never play than ever play with Folau again.
Future Wallabies captain David Pocock is in a different boat altogether. He and long-term partner Emma Palandri had a commitment ceremony in 2010 but refused to be married until same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia. That happened in 2017, and Pocock and Palandri were officially married last year.
So already a positive code of conduct result has made Folau’s future involvement virtually untenable.
I have a question for Folau: what did he expect to achieve by ranting against popular public opinion? For example, I’m a practising atheist after God took my father Broughton at 47 years of age in 1960 and my son Andrew at 47 just over seven years ago, the two I loved most on the planet.
My retaliation has been a kept promise to never enter church doors again for the rest of my life until I have no option in a box.
Even though I’m included on Folau’s hit list to repent or go to hell, I feel cheated I’m not likely to see this superb talent ever play again. And seeing his God-given talent has made him such a superstar, surely God must feel cheated as well that a stellar career He provided will be cut short. And for what?
From this day on there will never be a winner in this absurd situation. Everyone will be hurt in some way. And just one man kick-started this worldwide hurtful chain of events.