Folau signs with Catalans Dragons

https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/israel-folau-signs-for-super-league-club-catalans-dragons/news-story/233456ff1485b20993a8a4c8936f5c0a

Israel Folau signs for Super League club Catalans Dragons

Israel Folau, who was fired in May by Rugby Australia over a social media post warning “hell awaits” gay people has joined the Super League.

Former Australian rugby union star Israel Folau, sacked over anti-gay comments, has signed a one-year contract with Catalans Dragons, the Super League club said on Tuesday.

“Catalans Dragons are pleased to announce the signing of Israel Folau with immediate effect,” the Perpignan-based club said in a statement.

Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch said: “We want to give Israel a new opportunity to shine on the pitch.”

Folau, 30, an ardent Christian and former poster boy of Australian rugby, was fired in May by Rugby Australia over a social media post warning “hell awaits” gay people and others he considers sinners.

At the same time as Catalans announced the arrival of Folau on a one-year deal, the executive chairman of Europe’s Super League said in a statement that the majority of “informed voices connected to our game … share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him.

“There is a strong feeling that the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport,” Robert Elstone said.

“I made Catalans Dragons aware of those views. However, Super League does not have the authority to veto the registration of players and is satisfied by the due diligence carried out by The Rugby Football League.”

Folau, one of the world’s top rugby players, was fired by Rugby Australia over an Instagram post in April in which he condemned “drunks, homosexuals” and warned “hell awaits” them. Folau appealed against the firing and reached a confidential settlement with the governing body in December. Less than two months later, he is back in rugby - but in the 13-man code in which he first made his name in Australia with the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos.

The 30-year-old Folau signed a one-season deal with Catalans, the only French club in a league otherwise containing English teams and one from Canada.

“I’m a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be making further public comment about them,” Folau said in a statement by Catalans. “I look forward to my return to the great game of rugby league with the Catalans Dragons.”

The Super League said it was “a difficult decision” to allow Folau to be registered but added “the moral responsibility for deciding whether to sign a player sits with individual clubs.” “The player has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence,” it said in a statement.

“However distasteful his previous comments, we don’t believe that, under our current regulatory framework, these can prevent his participation in the sport.

“We have sought and received reassurances from both the player and the club regarding future behaviour.”

Folau responded by saying: “I acknowledge the views expressed by Super League and the Rugby Football League.”

Elstone said Catalans has assured Super League that “strict guidelines are in place to prevent the player from repeating his comments.”

“They have also assured us,” Elstone said, “that his contract will be terminated immediately should he do so.”

Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch confirmed that, saying: “Any transgression will trigger an immediate termination of Israel’s contract and a substantial fine.”

Guasch said his team wanted to give Folau “a new opportunity to shine on the pitch.”

“We do not support or agree with Israel’s previously expressed and controversial views which are based upon his sincerely held religious belief,” Guasch said. “We do not share or condone those views and we are totally committed to our club and our sport being open and welcoming to everyone.”

The Super League season starts next month and Wigan Warriors, one of the leading teams, said its game against Catalans on March 22 will be labelled “Pride Day” in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Keegan Hirst, who plays for Wakefield Trinity and is the first British rugby league player to come out as gay, said on Twitter he was “shocked and disappointed” by Folau’s arrival in Super League.

“Our great game is tasked with fighting against homophobia and standing up for the values it puts such high stock in,” he tweeted. “It shows none of the bravery, camaraderie or integrity RFL expects from its players, staff and fans.”

Folau, who was born in Australia to Tongan parents, had been warned before he was fired after making a similar post containing homophobic references during Australia’s national debate over the legalisation of gay marriage.

Folau, who describes himself as a devout Christian, said he was referencing the Bible.

Folau was an undisputed star in his 73 test matches for the Wallabies after joining the rugby union ranks in 2013.

He has the record for most tries by any player in the Super Rugby tournament, and was almost a certainty to play for Australia at the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year until he was fired. Australia lost to England in the quarterfinals.

Well

Guess who is back I guess…

Hopefully this thread can be kept under control

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Israel Folau: Gay Halifax player Keegan Hirst criticises Catalans Dragons signing
Keegan Hirst feels Catalans are “willing to park their values for a few extra tries a year”; Stonewall and Pride Sports UK encouraged by RFL’s work on LGBT+ inclusion
17:24, UK, Tuesday 28 January 2020

Halifax’s Keegan Hirst, who came out publicly as gay in 2017, says Catalans Dragons’ signing of Israel Folau has undermined rugby league’s work on equality and inclusion
Britain’s only out professional gay rugby league player Keegan Hirst says he is “shocked and disappointed” by the Catalans Dragons’ signing of former Australia rugby union player Israel Folau.

Folau, who was sacked last May by Rugby Australia following anti-LGBT posts on social media, signed on a one-year contract with the Super League side on Tuesday.

The Rugby Football League said it had faced a “difficult decision” but confirmed Folau’s registration with the Dragons will not be prevented, leading Halifax prop Hirst to condemn the move.

“There’s a bit of anger, disappointment and shock,” Hirst told Sky Sports News.

“It’s gone against everything Rugby League stands for, prides itself on and expects of its players and fans. This signing has undermined and alienated all of those people.”

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Hirst, who plays in the second-tier Championship, confirmed Super League had been in contact with him prior to the announcement being made.

He said: "I spoke to Super League over the weekend who were against it, they didn’t want it to go ahead and they let me know that was the case.

More on this story
Folau joins Catalans Dragons
Rugby Australia defend Folau settlement
"It turns out they don’t have the powers to do anything which is worrying. That’s the card the RFL has played which I don’t necessarily agree with.

"They talk about bringing the game into disrepute, and I think we can safely say if his comments had been made when playing he certainly would have done that.

“This is a guy who was rejected by the AFL and NRL. Catalan Dragons are saying come on over, they either don’t care about what he’s said or they do care but are willing to park their values for a few extra tries a year.”

Keegan Hirst in action for Wakefield Trinity
Image:
In 2015, Hirst came out publicly as gay while playing for Batley Bulldogs before moving on to Wakefield in 2017
Folau reached a settlement with Rugby Australia in December having sued for £7.4m on the grounds of religious discrimination.

In a statement explaining their decision to allow Folau’s registration, the RFL said: “However distasteful his previous comments, we don’t believe that, under our current regulatory framework, these can prevent his participation in the sport.”

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone has criticised the signing, and revealed he “made Catalans Dragons aware of those views” before the deal was completed.

“Super League deplores the homophobic comments Israel Folau has made in the past, which squarely contradict our sport’s core values,” Elstone said.

Israel Folau has reached an undisclosed settlement with Rugby Australia
Image:
Folau reached an undisclosed settlement with Rugby Australia in December 2019
"I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our game, and the majority share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him. There is a strong feeling that the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport.

“I made Catalans Dragons aware of those views. However, Super League does not have the authority to veto the registration of players and is satisfied by the due diligence carried out by The Rugby Football League.”

Shortly after Folau’s signing was confirmed, fellow Super League side Wigan Warriors announced their game against Catalans Dragons on March 22 would be ‘Pride Day’ as the Warriors “look to support the LGBTQ+ community”.

“Here at Wigan Warriors, we are committed to the core values of inclusion and respect,” Wigan Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski said.

"Our community foundation have a long history of supporting local LGBTQ+ groups and initiatives, and we want everyone who engages with our game to feel welcome, valued and most of all, respected. Rugby League has a strong history of inclusion, of breaking down barriers and of being a forward-thinking sport.

“I think that today more than any day that it is vitally important we reiterate that message. We’re looking forward to working with charities, local and hopefully national groups, to make this day a success.”

Robbie de Santos of LGBT equality charity Stonewall said: "Our Rainbow Laces campaign is dedicated to changing attitudes so that sport is inclusive of all. To help us in that mission, we need role models from all sports to speak up for equality and challenge prejudice.

Rainbow Laces campaign logo 2019, Sky Sports
Image:
Stonewall run the Rainbow Laces campaign to promote inclusion within sport
"Folau’s remarks also perpetuate a myth that faith and LGBT inclusion cannot coexist. Faith is a big part of many LGBT people’s lives, and acceptance as part of a faith community can be incredibly powerful. We hope Folau reflects seriously on this.

“It’s encouraging that the Rugby Football League has spoken out about the importance of inclusion and tackling offensive comments in sport. The more players, fans, clubs and organisations that stand up for equality in sport and society, the sooner we kick discrimination out and make sport everyone’s game.”

RFL is a supporter of Pride Sports, a UK organisation working to challenge LGBT+phobia in sports. Louise Englefield, director of Pride Sports, told Sky Sports News: "I’m really quite disappointed with the signing of Israel Folau.

"He’s made his stand with his relationship with lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. He’s made his opinions very clear and I don’t think those are in keeping with the ethos of rugby league.

"The RFL has done some fantastic work in this area - for example, it was one of the first national governing bodies to sign the government charter on homophobia and transphobia.

“I personally see this as a backwards step for the sport.”

He’ll have a massive season and we’ll be talking about his footy in a year from now.

@innsaneink said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

20200129_054713.jpg

HAHAHA!

This will be the biggest fizzer in history…

Not everyone will agree, but when I turn on Rugby League, I just want to watch the game…I’d like to switch off from all the politics swirling around these days. 90% of fans don’t care about this crap. Hope Catalans win the comp…

Lol, that’s mad.
Good luck to him.

Keen to see some highlights as i don’t watch super league.

He’s going to be in for a torrid welcome over there.

@willow said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

He’s going to be in for a torrid welcome over there.

Cos french people are gay?

@Demps said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

@willow said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

He’s going to be in for a torrid welcome over there.

Cos french people are gay?

No, don’t make insinuations Demps. Most clubs in the Super League are against his signing and plenty of players will be too.

@willow said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

@Demps said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

@willow said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

He’s going to be in for a torrid welcome over there.

Cos french people are gay?

No, don’t make insinuations Demps. Most clubs in the Super League are against his signing and plenty of players will be too.

Yeah, hes a controversial person…
Which is quite funny.
Always thought he was boring with an ultra bland personality.

Maybe he has the same issues Aaron Hernandez has who was also vocal with his thoughts on gays.

Folau, Toronto and SBW in the same super league season pretty amazing

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28th January 2020, 12:30 | rfl

STATEMENTS ON CATALANS DRAGONS SIGNING OF ISRAEL FOLAU
Statements on Catalans Dragons signing of Israel Folau
RFL STATEMENT:

The RFL confirms that the registration of Israel Folau with the Catalans Dragons will not be prevented.

This is a difficult decision, as the RFL places a high value on the sport’s reputation in prioritising Inclusion and Diversity – and deplores the player’s previous comments.

However the moral responsibility for deciding whether to sign a player sits with individual clubs.

The player has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence.

However distasteful his previous comments, we don’t believe that, under our current regulatory framework, these can prevent his participation in the sport.

We have sought and received reassurances from both the player and the club regarding future behaviour.

The RFL has taken and will continue to take action where any player breaches expected standards of behaviour while registered with a club, and comments that conflict with our commitment to Inclusion and Diversity across the game will not be tolerated.

SUPER LEAGUE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN ROBERT ELSTONE:

Super League deplores the homophobic comments Israel Folau has made in the past, which squarely contradict our sport’s core values.

I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our game, and the majority share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him.

There is a strong feeling that the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport.

I made Catalans Dragons aware of those views.

However, Super League does not have the authority to veto the registration of players and is satisfied by the due diligence carried out by The Rugby Football League.

Israel Folau is a free agent, who has the right to work, and he has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence.

Catalans Dragons has assured Super League that strict guidelines are in place to prevent the player from repeating his comments.

They have also assured us that his contract will be terminated immediately should he do so.

@weststigers said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

@innsaneink said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

20200129_054713.jpg

HAHAHA!

This will be the biggest fizzer in history…

Not everyone will agree, but when I turn on Rugby League, I just want to watch the game…I’d like to switch off from all the politics swirling around these days. 90% of fans don’t care about this crap. Hope Catalans win the comp…

If 90% of people didn’t care, he’d be playing NRL. Good stuff by Wigan. Be funny if other clubs follow their lead. You sign a clown, expect a circus.

last edited by GNR4LIFE

@GNR4LIFE said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

@weststigers said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

@innsaneink said in Folau signs with Catalans Dragons:

20200129_054713.jpg

HAHAHA!

This will be the biggest fizzer in history…

Not everyone will agree, but when I turn on Rugby League, I just want to watch the game…I’d like to switch off from all the politics swirling around these days. 90% of fans don’t care about this crap. Hope Catalans win the comp…

If 90% of people didn’t care, he’d be playing NRL. Good stuff by Wigan. Be funny if other clubs follow their lead. You sign a clown, expect a circus.

Was waiting for you to chime in…go gay people! YAY! No one cares what people do behind closed doors or how “proud” they are about it. Shut up and play footy and leave politics out of sport.

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