Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle has backed the move to dismiss former Wallabies fullback Israel, following their settlement on his unfair dismissal case, calling the deal a “commercial” decision.
Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, launched legal action after his four-year contract was torn up in May for posting a meme on social media that said hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and other groups.
Rugby Australia (RA) and Folau announced the settlement in a joint statement on Wednesday after being locked in mediation for some 14 hours.
It’s been reported the settlement sum was seven-figures but no details of the agreement have been officially disclosed.
The decision was met with outrage online with many Twitter users accusing Rugby Australia of “selling out” and demanding Castle to resign.
Whilst RA apologised to Folau and his family in their statement for the difficult times they’ve been through, Castle told media on Thursday that they stand by their decision and will continue to uphold RA’s values of inclusiveness.
“These are ultimately commercial decisions, we had to make a decision that was right for rugby in this country,” she said.
“We made the right decision in calling out Israel on his posts and on his inappropriate messaging, that remains the same, we stick to our values that inclusiveness is absolutely core to the key of rugby.
“Ultimately taking this conversation further into a court situation was not helping the game and so we made a decision that gave us cost certainty that put us in the best financial situation in entering the new year in a positive way. This settlement gives us that and it also ensured that we were in a situation where the cost to Rugby Australia was less than seeing a trial through to the end of February.”
Castle went on to explain there was a lot of hurt between the two parties.
“There was an apology both ways. That apology was both ways because this has been very stressful, it’s been a very hard time for the Folaus and it’s been a very hard time for Rugby Australia,” she said.
“But, at the end of the day, it was about that difficult time that Rugby Australia apologised for, but we stand by our decision and the process we’ve been through.”