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'Divine intervention': The World Rugby rule change that could bring Israel Folau back to Test rugby

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5th November, 2021
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Israel Folau wants to reignite his international rugby career by playing for Tonga if eligibility rules are changed later this month.

Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia for social media posts saying gay people were going to hell, has spoken to Tonga coach Toutai Kefu about a comeback, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The World Rugby Council will meet on November 24 to vote on a proposal to allow players to represent a second nation. A three year time frame is being mooted.

Folau, who is preparing for a stint in Japanese rugby, is someone who could benefit from the potential change, putting him in the frame for the 2023 World Cup, should Tonga qualify.

Kefu told the Herald he had already met with Folau to gauge his interest.

“We’d definitely be interested,” Kefu said. “We’re not in a position to bypass players of Israel’s calibre. We’d welcome him with open arms.

“I’ve had conversations with him already in the last six months. I actually caught up with him just before he left to go to Japan.

“I explained to him where we were at in terms of what’s happening with this revisiting of this new eligibility rule. He totally understands it. I said, ‘If they overturned this straight away, you could be available for us next year’.

“He said, ‘Yeah, I’m keen to go’.”

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The day of the vote will be three years to the day since Folau played his final Test for the Wallabies.

“Maybe there is some alignment there, maybe some divine intervention,” said Kefu.

Kefu said the rule change would mean “six or seven” players could come into the frame, having played for other nations, including England’s Billy and Mako Vunipola and former All Black Charles Piutau.

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