Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Aussie rugby chief admits struggling with Folau anti-gay row

Aussie rugby chief admits struggling with Folau anti-gay row

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has said that Israel Folau is "walking the line" after his latest anti-homosexual social media post.

Last month, Folau controversially said that all gay people are destined for hell and since then there has been plenty of outrage from Folau's comments.

Folau, a former Mormon who now attends a church allied to the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, said a year ago that he would not support legislation allowing gay marriage during nationwide plebiscite over the issue.

Castle, a former New Zealand Netball and Canterbury Bulldogs league CEO, said: "This is singularly the most hard thing I've ever had to deal with". "And that's because there is no black and white answer". On the other hand, you're dealing with freedom of speech and someone's right to express their views, whether it be religious or otherwise.

"So that's the measure we'll continue to apply".

Folau, 29, went on to write an article for Player's Voice, saying he was prepared to walk away from the game if he is forced to choose between playing and voicing his anti-gay worldview, which he says is informed by his Christian beliefs.

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All Blacks TJ Perenara and Brad Weber took to twitter themselves to denounce Folau's comments, and today's actions have set off a number of mixed reactions from the public.

On Thursday, former Wallaby Clyde Rathbone tweeted: "It has become painfully clear that Australia's best rugby player is a religious lunatic bent on self-immolation".

"Let's talk football. These beliefs that you talk about, keep them to yourself", he said.

His stance has put Rugby Australia in a hard position as it tries to balance its desire to re-sign Folau to a new contract with the demands of leading sponsors including national airline Qantas, which has criticised his stance.

After five successful seasons, though, Folau's contract will be up at the end of the year and Rugby Australia will be desperate to get him to extend at least through next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. "The freedom of speech movement is looking for a conversation to be had and that's why - and I keep repeating myself - it's very delicate and we're trying to manage both sides so everyone feels included".

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