Super League says 'accepts' Folau registration with Catalans

by Simon Evans | Reuters
Wednesday, 5 February 2020 18:07 GMT

Rugby Union - England v Australia - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 24, 2018 Australia's Israel Folau runs in to score their first try REUTERS/Toby Melville

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Former rugby union player Folau had his contract with Rugby Australia torn up for posting on social media that said hell awaits gay people

By Simon Evans

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Rugby’s Super League says it accepts that Australian Israel Folau has been legally registered as a player after he signed for Catalan Dragons last month, but it has now taken steps to be able to intervene in controversial signings.

Former rugby union player Folau had his contract with Rugby Australia torn up in May for posting on social media that hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and other groups — one of a series of postings that angered LGBT campaigners.

Folau, who enjoyed a successful stint in the National Rugby League with Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos before switching codes, was told he would not be allowed a return to the NRL.

But the Rugby Football League (RFL) allowed the player’s registration with French club Catalans.

“With the season under way, we now feel it is important for Super League to separate what is an off-field matter from what is happening on the field,” the Super League Board said in a statement after a meeting on Wednesday.

“The Super League Board accepts the legalities around the RFL’s decision to register Israel Folau, and the Board has voted unanimously to put in place measures that ensure the Super League has greater authority to stop controversial signings such as this in the future,” it added.

The owner and chairman of Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers has warned Catalans they could face legal action as a result of signing Folau.

The BBC said it had obtained an email in which Neil Hudgell put the Dragons “on notice” should Rovers suffer financial loss due to the signing of the former Australia rugby union international.

Wigan Warriors have said their round eight game against the Dragons on March 22 will be a Pride Day with the club’s players wearing Rainbow socks and boot laces and gay rights groups invited to attend.

Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch continued to defend his club’s decision to sign Folau on Wednesday.

“After numerous discussions with the coach and the manager, and with my board of directors, we took the decision to give a second chance to this great player, because he and his agent gave us guarantees about what happened,” Guasch said.

“He didn’t want to go back to what had happened, and he wanted, above all, to look to the future and rebuild his image, rebuild his character.” (Reporting by Simon Evans Editing by Ed Osmond)

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