Israel Folau’s post is still on his Instagram account.
Israel Folau’s post is still on his Instagram account.

Folau stung by explosive court papers

Israel Folau offered to apologise for his controversial homophobic Instagram post and conceded it could have been hurtful to young gay people, explosive court documents have revealed.

Documents seen by news.com.au revealed Folau admitted in May during an independent Rugby Australia tribunal hearing into his high-level breach of contract that his comments were not in line with the values of the sporting organisation, as set out in the Rugby Australia code of conduct.

The revelation, as claimed in court documents submitted by Rugby Australia, could be a major blow to the $10 million damages claim Folau is seeking in the Federal Circuit Court.

The documents claim Folau offered to make a public apology for his post, which is still featured on his Instagram page.

"Mr Folau, in his evidence (before the tribunal), conceded that people who are homosexual, or who had a homosexual friend or a child struggling with homosexuality, may have been offended by the 2019 Instagram post and that he understood that at the time of making it," Rugby Australia claims in its defence, filed on Friday and today obtained by news.com.au.

Rugby Australia also claims that during Folau's judiciary hearing the former Wallabies fullback admitted transgender people may have been offended by his post to Twitter and accepted that Rugby Australia stakeholders may have been uneasy being linked to Rugby Australia as a result of Folau's comment.

Rugby Australia's submission comes after Folau's legal team lodged a 26-page statement of claim with the Federal Circuit Court in August where the unemployed star said the decision to sack him was unenforceable because it placed an unreasonable limit on his ability to play.

The 30-year-old took his unfair dismissal claim to the Federal Circuit Court after a mediation hearing at the Fair Work Commission on 28 June failed to result in an agreement between the two parties.

Folau's unlawful termination case against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW will be heard from February 4, unless mediation meetings scheduled in December can broker a settlement between the two parties.

Israel Folau is sitting out the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Israel Folau is sitting out the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

 

Folau is also seeking an apology from Rugby Australia and the reinstatement of his $4 million contract with the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs.

Folau's offer of an apology is a major twist on the reported timeline of events during the tribunal hearing where it had previously been reported he refused to back down on his comments and refused to take down the post.

At the time Folau was told if he took down his controversial Instagram post, which claimed "hell" awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others unless they repent, it would be deemed as remorseful and would have potentially downgraded his code of conduct breach from "high level" to a low or mid-level breach.

A breach classed in the high-level category was the only level of breach that would allow Rugby Australia to terminate his contract.

The new court documents come after Folau was blocked from making his return to professional sport with Tongan rugby league yesterday.


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