The Rugby Football League and Super League have both issued statements in response to the Catalans Dragons’ signing of former Australian Rugby Union star Israel Folau.
The Dragons had been chasing a replacement for departed centre Brayden Wiliame for several weeks, while Folau, a former Australian Rugby League international, had left rugby union at the behest of that sport’s Australian governing body after posting messages on Twitter that he claimed were consistent with his Christian faith but which appear to contain homophobic messages.
The RFL has confirmed it will not stand in the way of Folau’s registration, despite claiming that it “deplored the player’s previous comments”.
The RFL has also pointed out that Folau has not been charged with or convicted of any offence and that under its current regulatory regime it can prevent his registration, although it has sought assurances from both Folau and the Dragons about his future behaviour, while “comments that conflict with our commitment to inclusion and diversity will not be tolerated.”
Super League Executive Chairman Robert Elstone has also issued a statement about the signing.
“Super League deplores the homophobic comments Israel Folau has made in the past, which squarely contradict our sport’s core values,” said Elstone.
“I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our sport, 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.”