Thursday, August 5, 2021

Raising hell: Folau’s self-sabotage will lead to catastrophe for rugby

I cant speak on behalf of homosexuals. But as a sometime drunk, lapsed fornicator, occasional liar a..

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at April 12, 2019

I cant speak on behalf of homosexuals. But as a sometime drunk, lapsed fornicator, occasional liar and thief, speculative atheist and idolator by trade (hey, nobodys perfect), I wonder what hell Israel Folau is expecting us all to go to. With our current overloaded schedules of drinking, fornicating, idolating etc, were kind of busy. But can the hell he has in mind for us be a more fiery inferno of misery than losing whole slabs of our lives watching a referee repeatedly ask the Waratahs to repack their scrum? Can Folaus Jesus save us from having to watch the tripe he and his mates served up against the Sunwolves? Does a worse hell even exist? Its enough to drive you to (more) drink, fornicating, etc.

On the outer: Israel Folau gave Rugby Australia no choice but to part ways with him.

On the outer: Israel Folau gave Rugby Australia no choice but to part ways with him.Credit:Louise Kennerley

Rugby Australia has announced it is terminating Folaus contract because he is violating its wish to include, rather than exclude, people in their game. The problem for the game is, its doing the job of exclusion well enough already, and needs no extra help from Folau, his floods and his plagues.

We drunks, thieves, idolators etc have never had much of a problem with being excluded from sporting codes. Au contraire. But what Folau never seemed to understand, in the rarefied realm he inhabited, was that rugby cannot afford to exclude anybody. The game in Australia is a game in varying degrees of crisis at just about all levels, from the poor showing of professional outfits, the shutting down of the Western Force, the difficulty of maintaining sponsors and broadcasters and the challenges of junior participation. Pockets, but only pockets, of the game are prospering. Folau, richly compensated, appears to have been living in one of those pockets. His actions and his sacking must be read in the context of this crisis. His tweets about evil are no longer simply framed by the debate over free speech versus tolerance. Theyre not the isolated proselytising of an athlete who might have taken one too many head knocks. Free speech-versus-tolerance, religion and the role of the so-called "outrage brigade" were what Folaus earlier declarations had been about. That was then. What its about now is rugbys own survival, a crisis which Folau has culpably exacerbated.

When you look at what Folau has done, you can only conclude that he has become a man who must hate the sport he is playing. Why else would he be committing such brazen sabotage? Why would he want to wreck this poor game? Former Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock put the issue in a nutshell when he said, "Youd love to get to the bottom as to why? Why has he done it? Everyone knows his point of view, right? Hes done this a number of times already. So its more [about] what were the motivations to going again knowing full well that he was probably going to get sanctioned?"


We dont need to ask why Folau believes what he believes, or even why he feels he has to broadcast those beliefs. Or whether he is entitled to do so. There are well-worn arguments on both sides. His actions this week moved the question to why Israel Folau wants to hurt rugby.

Folau forced the issue. This is an act of willed self-destruction. He effectively terminated himself.

Folau, so skilled at catching bombs, threw a big one. He cornered Rugby Australia into either sacking him or looking ridiculous. Raelene Castle immediately called Folaus actions "unacceptable". Anything short of tearing up his contract, and she was accepting the unacceptable. He left her and RA with no choice. Could he not have known that? Possibly, the transfer of wealth from rugbys accounts into Folaus led him to believe he was still in the NRL or the AFL, and that his religious statements would not affect the sport that was feeding him. Its unlikely, but then there is a galaxy of unlikelies circling inside that head.

Whether RA sacked him or not, the reverberations will be catastrophic. His religious views have numerous supporters among his teammates at the Waratahs and Wallabies – not just support for his supposed right to express them, but support for those views themselves. Representative teams are not cults of like-minded individuals, but coalitions of diversity. They have to meld people from different backgrounds with different values under a common flag. They must make room for sinners of all kinds, not just the righteous. Nor is it the work of the godly to convert their teammates. The factionalism in these teams is well known, and in his absence Folau will now continue to divide them even more ruinously than the interstate rivalries and sectarian divisions of the past century.

The number of disgruntled professional rugby players will multiply. He has left Waratahs and Wallabies dressing-rooms split irreconcilably between pro and anti, between those who believe they are destined for heaven and those headed for a hell they dont believe in. Why, unless you were possessed by some cosmic self-centredness, would you aggravate those divisions? Judging by his actions, Folau cared little for the unity of the teams he represented, little for the survival of the code, little for those purportedly unifying forces of jersey and nation. Most likely, he acted with full awareness of the rift he waRead More – Source

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