Former rugby star Israel Folau offered to publicly apologise over his Instagram post about gay people, Rugby Australia has claimed in court documents.
Folau was sacked over the post in May this year. In a code of conduct hearing, Folau also admitted he had breached the RA Code of Conduct, the rugby body claims.
He also refused to take down the post but allegedly offered to let the sporting body vet future posts.
The former Wallabies player is suing Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW for unlawful termination of his $5.7 million contract. Folau claims RA unlawfully dismissed him under laws preventing sackings because of a person’s religion.
The new details appear in documents lodged by Rugby Australia outlining its defence in the federal court case against Folau.
The court documents state that in the hearing, he conceded the posts could have offended homosexuals – including “children struggling with homosexuality” – and transgender people.
He also admitted the posts were a breach of the code of conduct and that they could make sponsors “uneasy” being linked to Rugby Australia.
“Rugby Australia received communications from sponsors and stakeholders expressing concerns,” they claim. The sponsors wanted “swift disciplinary action”, Rugby Australia added.
Rugby Australia said it is “remarkable” Folau is now claiming his posts do not breach the code of conduct.
Israel Folau wants his job back and millions in compensation
Folau earlier argued his sacking places an “unreasonable restraint” on his ability to play the game.
He also argued it was against the public interest for a contract “to prohibit an employee… from having or adopting any religion or belief”.
Folau is demanding his job back, an apology from Rugby Australia and millions in compensation.
The unlawful termination case is due for a mediation hearing in December. If unsuccessful, a trial will be held in the new year.
It comes after Israel Folau and Rugby Australia failed to reach an agreement at a Fair Work hearing in June.
Israel Folau may resurrect rugby career in Tonga
Earlier this week, Israel Folau suggested he would reboot his rugby career with the national rugby league team in Tonga.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to represent God, my family, my heritage and the people of Tonga,” Folau said.
But confusion surrounds the move with Rugby League International Federation saying they weren’t aware of it. The RLIF said the Tongan team had not formally asked them to consider the move.
Tonga still has laws banning homosexual activity with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. But the ban is rarely, if ever, enforced.
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