Dragons application could see Israel Folau brought into NRL

An application from a New South Wales rugby team could see Israel Folau return to the NRL after being embroiled in a legal battle with Rugby Australia over his views on homosexuality which saw him sacked from the code in 2019.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, St George Illawarra (The Dragons) have applied to the NRL to consider their recruitment of the former Wallaby.

“The NRL is one of the best sporting competitions in the world, we want to attract the best athletes in the world, and I’m not surprised there’s interest from athletes wanting to play in our competition,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told SMH.

“At the moment there’s nothing before the NRL or the ARLC (Australian Rugby League Commission) to consider. If there’s a formal application made, there’s a registration process and that due process will be followed and considered.”

Sydney Morning Herald also highlight ARLC chair Peter V’Landys opposition to Folau’s views when he took the position back in 2019.

“I have no tolerance for people that put other people’s lives [ at risk] or [commit] violence. It’s a big statement to make,” V’landys said.

“With due respect to Israel, what he says, young kids listen to. He is a role model. They act on it. And where you’re a kid at school and you get bashed up because you’re different, I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

Writing for Monash University in 2019, sport inclusion expert and lead author on Out in the Fields homophobia in sport study Erik Denison said Folau’s comments cause clear damage to queer youth.

“It’s hard to understand why Folau says he cares bout gay people, and knows their suffering, yet uses his powerful social media platform to compare gay people to thieves and adulterers,” Denison wrote.

“By doing this, instead of helping to stop the bullying of gay kids, Folau is essentially passing a stone to bullies and online trolls to throw at these young people.”

LGBTQIA+ advocacy group just.equal also urged Folau to apologise for his comments after legal action was settled out of court last year.

“He should apologise to the LGBTI community for the harm he caused, he should say sorry to the rugby community for the disruption he caused the sport, and he should refund the money he raised for his defence in court.” just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said.

In January 2020, Folau signed a contract with French team Catalan Dragons. Chairman Bernard Guasch said they hoped to give “Israel a new opportunity to shine on the pitch.”

OIP Staff

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