Israel Folau takes Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs to court after settlement talks fall through — and says he has the support of ‘tens of thousands of Australians’

Israel Folau launches court proceedings against Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs.(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
  • Pro rugby player Israel Folau has begun legal action against Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs after a failed attempt to settle his unfair dismissal dispute via the Fair Work Commission.
  • Folau was sacked in May after a social media post in which he said LGBTQ people would go to Hell unless they repented, in breach of the sport’s rules.
  • The case will now proceed to the Federal Court, although no court date has been set as yet.

Controversial rugby player Israel Folau has begun court proceedings against his former employers Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs, after he was sacked for breaching the Professional Players Code of Conduct.

Folau was dropped by Rugby Australia on May 17 after a social media post in which he quoted bible verses and said that gay people, among others such as drunks and liars, are destined for hell unless they repent.

The rugby player announced on Twitter that he will now head to court following an unsuccessful attempt at mediation with his former employers at the Fair Work Commission.

“Unfortunately, our conciliation before the Fair Work Commission did not resolve the matters between us and I have been left with no choice but to commence court action,” Folau added in a statement on his website.

“I have been blessed to have received the support of tens of thousands of Australians throughout my journey, and I want to say thank you to everyone who has offered their prayers and support. It has meant so much to Maria and me over the last few months and gives us strength for the road ahead.”

In a YouTube video posted in June when he made the claim with the Fair Work Commission, Folau said he hoped for an apology from Rugby Australia “and an acknowledgment that even if they disagree with my views, I should be free to peacefully express my religious beliefs without fear of retribution or exclusion”.

The sporting bodies he was formerly employed by said Folau’s conduct was a breach of their rules.

“Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union made the decision to pursue the termination of Israel Folau’s contract because of a serious breach of the Professional Players Code of Conduct,” the sporting body said in a statement at the time.

“This is an issue of an employee and his obligations to his employers within the contract that he signed. He was bound by a Code of Conduct for all professional players in Australia that spells out clear guidelines and obligations regarding player behaviour, including respectful use of social media.”

The case now heads to the Federal court, according to Rugby.com.au, however, no date has yet been set.

Folau launched a GoFundMe campaign in June to raise funds for the court proceedings, but it was taken down by the fundraising site. The Australian Christian Lobby, however, launched another fundraising page for Folau’s legal expenses.