The case of Rugby Australia against Israel Folau will continue on Tuesday.
The case of Rugby Australia against Israel Folau will continue on Tuesday.

Tahs urge RA to settle as Folau hearing drags on

AS Israel Folau's Code of Conduct hearing begins its third day, NSW Chairman Roger Davis says the case must be resolved "quickly" and believes a settlement is the best course of action.

Folau's code of conduct hearing resumes on Tuesday morning, with the Wallabies superstar and the rest of the rugby fraternity unlikely to hear a result by the end of the day.

The three-person panel will convene at the law offices at ANZ Tower in Sydney after hearing over 15 hours of arguments at Rugby Australia (RA) headquarters last weekend.

RA doesn't expect a decision to be delivered on Tuesday and there's no certainty the hearing won't go into a fourth day.

Among the major rugby figures to appear before the hearing so far are RA chief executive officer Raelene Castle, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and NSW Rugby Union boss Andrew Hore.

It is not known who the panel might hear from on Tuesday.

Whatever the outcome and whenever it's delivered, it's unlikely to be the end of perhaps the most scrutinised and debated code of conduct hearing in Australian rugby history.

Folau and RA will have until 72 hours after any decision is handed down to appeal.

 

It remains to be seen what will happen to Folau. Picture: Matrix Media Group
It remains to be seen what will happen to Folau. Picture: Matrix Media Group

But Davis said the case needed to come to a close soon for the best interests of the game in Australia.

"This is a no-win situation for the game and fans and I'd like to see it resolved as quickly as possible," Davis said.

"I think a settlement is a common sense approach … it would be smart. If this goes for a long time there are definitely no winners.

"Let's see if we can bring some common sense to the table and work out a solution that keeps everyone but happy but with a three-party deal that's not as easy as it sounds."

A settlement of sorts would, however, be a poor look for Rugby Australia and Castle.

Already it's been reported that RA offered Folau a $1 million to settle ahead of the code of conduct hearing.

RA have since refuted that figure.

But any payout from the cash-strapped governing body would be hard to justify given RA culled the Western Force in 2017 to save $6 million a year.

Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore and Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle arrive. Picture: Tim Hunter
Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore and Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle arrive. Picture: Tim Hunter

It has almost been a month since Folau's posts on Twitter and Instagram triggered a firestorm of reaction after Folau, for the second time in a year, said gay people would go to hell unless they repented.

RA's integrity unit deemed Folau had committed a high-level breach of the code of conduct warranting termination of his employment contract.

Australia's first gay rugby club, the Sydney Convicts, have become the latest voice to condemn Folau's comments.

"For a lot of us, part of confronting your sexuality is moving away from rugby, because rugby and contact sports are hyper-masculine environments and a lot of people who come out of the closet feel like those two worlds are irreconcilable," Convicts president Don Rose said.

Rose echoed Davis' desire for the case to be dealt with swiftly but applauded RA's stance noting the damage Folau's posts could cause for those battling their sexuality.

"The comments are offensive," Rose said.

"As a proud gay man who's been a rugby supporter my entire life and a kid who idolised the Wallabies, there's a danger those comments could have really severe effects on kids' mental wellbeing."

"The entire rugby community wants this to be dealt with and to move on.

"There are so many great things happening in our sport - there is a process but the sooner we can move on the better, and talk about the things we should be."

Israel Folau and Adam Ashley-Cooper pose with players from the Sydney Convicts during a Waratahs training session at Kippax Lake on July 3, 2014 in Sydney.
Israel Folau and Adam Ashley-Cooper pose with players from the Sydney Convicts during a Waratahs training session at Kippax Lake on July 3, 2014 in Sydney.

While Rose said the game had come a long way to changing their language, he added that it still had a way to go.

"There's still homophobic language and slurs that occur and when people you look up to are saying things completely contrary to [being inclusive], that really slows down and impedes the process," Rose said.

"At the end of the day it's what we do on the pitch - it's the rugby that speaks."

In 2015, Jacques Potgieter was fined $20,000 by the Australian Rugby Union for homophobic remarks he made during the Waratahs' 28-13 win over the Brumbies.

The South African backrower later visited the Convicts as part of his personal development.

"Great meeting the boys from @sydneyconvicts! Happy for the opportunity to apologise in person. Backing you guys 100%!" Potgieter posted on Instagram.

News Corp Australia

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