The Israel Folau story is growing day-by-day. Aided by social media, talksport and public opinion, events over this week have seen Rugby Australia reveal the discussion that they had with the player. It appears, that they have offered only a piece-meal verbal caution to the International player.
Receiving rebuke from the public, rugby commentators and now, fellow Super Rugby players who are starting to display their disgust. This is a new, and well received new theme – one that has received an endorsement by the New Zealand Rugby Players Association.
“He felt strongly about what has happened and it has obviously had an impact on people close to him,” Rob Nichol told Newshub. Nichol is referring to single-Test All Black, Brad Weber. The players repose to the anti-gay and homophobic sentiments of Folau, is widely being broadcast around the rugby world.
My cousin and her partner, and my Aunty and her partner are some of the most kind, caring & loving people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. To think that I play against someone that says they'll go to Hell for being gay disgusts me. 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈
— Brad Weber (@brad_weber9) April 17, 2018
Israel Folau story growing day-by-day
If the topic had been dealt with strongly by Rugby Australia, some believe that the matter would have ended there. That may be true of the individual. But now the conversation has widened to continue the public opinion on gay rights, same sex marriage and [overall] the right to speak ones mind in a public forum.
Both players have done so, with others like TJ Perenara and former players, following in the lead of Weber. And while he is a player the same as Israel Folau, his profile is much less known. So in a hubris way, his voice has a truth that other leading players could not.
That is two-fold. Players now respect that in their own contracts, they too should not broadcast their beliefs or opinions ‘too widely’. This is both en-light of sporting organizations experience. And the modern conditions placed into player contracts.
But also, the conscience of the individual is tested. Whether to comment? How deeply they feel about the subject? That is the primary decision that drove Weber to ‘vent’ however, his passion is as much due to his position on the fringes of national selection. As much as his conviction, Weber is not a high-profile player, and for his judgement, was not bound by the confines on New Zealand Rugby [or similar players in other Super Rugby nations].
Rugby Australia did not sanction Folau – why?
The news that came out on Tuesday, that Folau would be ‘counselled’ on his social media choices, was not entirely satisfactory. The media release and comments from chief executive Raelene Castle did not seem strong enough. They were coalesce to the status of the player – not the actions.
Confirmed: Rugby Aus statement on Folau and why they won't sanction him. pic.twitter.com/xC0eA6FctG
— Tom Decent (@tomdecent) April 17, 2018
Growing day-by-day, who knows where the Israel Folau story will go now. Rugby writers, journalist and commentators are making their views known. Ironically, the ‘opinion pieces’ will only show the range of understanding….or disgust that group holds. Weber chose to state his rather more plainly.
In terms of the player, his coach, franchise and (seemingly) his national union are in support. His wife has also publicly spoken of her support. And it might seem that fellow Australian rugby players could be seen to support Israel Folau. That is, the longer many of them stay silent.
The fact that an New Zealand player has chosen to express what some might have been thinking, appears to have released a pressure valve. Like other social topics for debate, the anti-gay or, pro-gay one is going to continue to be discussed. In this, neither Israel Folau or Brad Weber can take credit for, or can now stop that conversation from continuing.
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