Israel Folau was booed by spectators every time he had the ball during a rugby union match in London at the weekend.
Folau joined team World XV in a match against the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday (UK time). Both teams comprise players from around the world.
It’s been four years since Rugby Australia sacked Israel Folau over social media posts declaring hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others.
The UK’s Rugby Football Union reacted to Folau’s selection by flying the Progress Pride flag above the field.
And whenever Folau had the ball during the match, parts of the crowd booed him, loud enough to hear on the broadcast of the match.
Some pockets of spectators in the 32,000 seat stadium wore rainbows and waved rainbow flags during the match.
World XV ultimately lost the match 48-42 to the Barbarians.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 28, 2023
The rainbow flag proudly flies above Twickenham with a certain Israel Folau warming up below pic.twitter.com/R14FbCQSPp
— John Evely (@JohnEvely_BPost) May 28, 2023
— Matt Webb (@Webb79) May 28, 2023
World XV coach says Israel Folau ‘can’t be punished for life’
After the match, World XV coach Steve Hansen, who earlier defended selecting the “great rugby player” and wore a pride wristband during the match, weighed in on the crowd’s response.
“Everyone is allowed an opinion. We don’t necessarily have to agree with each other on our opinions, but you are entitled to have one,” Steve Hansen said.
“You can’t be punished for the rest of your life for having an opinion that most of us disagree with.
“I’ve always been a great believer that you can’t help somebody change by leaving them on the outside.”
This month ABC revisited the Israel Folau saga in two-part documentary Folau.
Former rugby union player Dan Palmer became the first Wallaby to come out as gay in 2020. Dan speaks in the doco about the Folau row as well as his years-long struggle with his sexuality during his career.
The two-part documentary is streaming on ABC iview.
We came. We were seen. We were heard.
We’re just humans who love other humans.
— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) May 28, 2023
Glorious day out in the sun enjoying the rugby! 🌈 🏉🏟️
— Elma Smit (@Elmakapelma) May 28, 2023
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