Monday, 17 February, 2020

Billy Vunipola Defends 'Liking' Israel Folau's Controversial Instagram Post

Billy Vunipola Defends 'Liking' Israel Folau's Controversial Instagram Post
Cary Erickson | 13 April, 2019, 19:29

The Waratahs have no Super Rugby fixture this week, but the sacking of Folau would throw the plans of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika into disarray with only three months to go until the Rugby World Cup.

England worldwide Billy Vunipola has been axed by Channel 4 after he came out on social media and backed Israel Folau following the Australian's controversial homophobic post.

Vunipola took to his own Instagram account to explain why he had "liked" Folau's post, claiming his beliefs had been insulted but that he did not "hate" anyone.

On this occasion, however, RA announced it would cancel the lucrative four-year deal he signed in January.

As for Folau, he's headed for a bitter showdown with Rugby Australia, pledging to tackle the governing body head on in a desperate bid to save his career.

Israel Folau won't be returning to the NRL after his Rugby Australia termination, after ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie closed the door on welcoming Folau back into the NRL on Thursday night.

The Rugby Union Players' Association accompanied Folau to the talks and revealed in a statement that he intends to honour his contract, adding that the RA's code of conduct must be followed during any disciplinary action.

Earlier in the day, Folau looked to be in good spirits after he was spotted at a Sydney cafe with his wife Maria Folau, and appeared to be in discussions with two associates.

There has been widespread condemnation of Folau's remarks, including from former Wallabies team-mate Drew Mitchell and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

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Now Lawes has stepped into defend Vunipola's right to freedom of expression.

"Rugby is an inclusive sport, and we do not support these views", a spokesperson said.

What started as a rugby scandal in Australia exploded into a much wider and deeper issue yesterday, particularly in England, one which threatens the ideals and values that the game professes to stand by.

"Out there, people now are terrified of saying anything; they don't know what they can say", Jones said on 2GB on Friday morning. Who cares? It's an opinion. As I say, I totally disagree with what he's said and the way he's using his platform.

"When people of influence use their public profiles to demean and discriminate, we can not allow such divisive comments to go unchecked".

"And by the way If you're going to say you're accepting of everyone then be accepting of everyone, not just the people you agree with".

"It has nothing to do with Israel, or rugby, or religion, homosexuals, or whatever". Where are we in this country on free speech?'

The 30-year-old posted an image to Instagram this week saying that for gay people, "hell awaits you".