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Mon 2 Dec 2019 | 08:24

Rugby Australia's last-ditch bid to avoid court battle with Folau

Rugby Australia's last-ditch bid to avoid court battle with Folau
Mon 2 Dec 2019 | 08:24
Rugby Australia's last-ditch bid to avoid court battle with Folau

NEWS: Rugby Australia said they hoped to reach a “sensible” settlement as they met Monday with fallen star Israel Folau in a last-ditch bid to avoid a court trial over his sacking for controversial comments.

Folau was fired in May for “high-level” misconduct after an Instagram post in April.

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The 30-year-old former Wallabies fullback is demanding Aus$14 million (US$9.5 million) in compensation, claiming he was unlawfully dismissed under legislation that disallows sackings because of a person’s religion.

The governing body insists his termination was purely contractual.

A trial has been set for February unless the mediation in Melbourne is successful.

“Israel admitted he’s caused harm with his comments and stated he would not curb his social media use and would post whatever he likes whenever he feels the need to share his view,” Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle told reporters outside the courtroom.

“But we come here today with a genuine desire to find a settlement that is sensible and reasonable so that we can return all of our focus and resources to growing the game of rugby.”

She added that Rugby Australia had received a lot of support for their stance.

“It is these messages from members of our community and the wider sports community that leaves us in no doubt that we are doing what’s right,” she said.

Folau has been backed by prominent conservatives and the Australian Christian Lobby raised more than Aus$2 million in just two days to help pay his legal fees.

He said in a video message on his website Monday that he wanted “the truth” to be upheld.

“I understand that not everyone shares my faith and some find it difficult to reconcile with their own beliefs,” said Super Rugby’s record try-scorer, who entered the court with his netballer wife Maria.

“I want to be clear that I only share passages from the Bible as a gesture of love.”

He added that he was praying that God “watches over us, so that both parties might realise the courage to uphold the truth”.

Folau was originally seeking Aus$10 million for lost sponsorships and earnings, but boosted that by $4 million in an updated statement of claim last week, which if successful could plunge Australian rugby into financial difficulties.

Related article:

Pocock calls out Folau on latest captaincy claims

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Rugby Australia's Last-ditch Bid To Avoid Court Battle With Folau - Australia | Rugby365