Australia

Settlement with Israel Folau 'commercial decision', not back down: Rugby boss

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Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle is standing by the decision to settle with axed Wallabies star Israel Folau, saying it was right for the game.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle is standing by the decision to settle the legal dispute with sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau, saying it was a "commercial decision" that gives the national body certainty.

Ms Castle says the organisation "didn't back down" but rather it ensured the cost was less than going to a trial, which was due to start in February.

Israel Folau and his wife Maria leave the Federal Court in Melbourne after a long mediation with Rugby Australia.
Israel Folau and his wife Maria leave the Federal Court in Melbourne after a long mediation with Rugby Australia.
AAP

Ms Castle earlier dismissed a reported settlement figure of $8 million as "wildly inaccurate" and she said RA won't have to make changes to the budget or take money away from community rugby to pay Folau.

"The terms are confidential but what you do try and find is a situation that gives RA some certainty and this settlement gives us that and also ensured that cost to RA was less than seeing a trial through to the end of February," she said.

"We didn't back down - we needed to give the game some certainty."

Folau was dumped by Rugby Australia eight months ago after an Instagram post which read: "Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You. Repent! Only Jesus Saves.”.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said the settlement with the player was a commercial decision.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said the settlement with the player was a commercial decision.
AAP

Ms Castle said the organisation made the right call in sacking Folau in April for his religiously-motivated but inflammatory anti-gay social media posts.

"We made the right decision in calling out Israel on his posts and inappropriate messaging, that remains the same.

"We stuck to our values that inclusiveness is core to the key of rugby.

"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."

RA and NSW Rugby said they "do not in any way" agree with the content of Folau's post.

"Inclusiveness is one of Rugby's core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community," the joint statement said.

"Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused."

Following the decision, Folau published a video statement saying he had been “vindicated”.

Israel Folau celebrates during the 2018 Rugby Union Championship.
Israel Folau celebrates during the 2018 Rugby Union Championship.
AAP

"With today's acknowledgement and apology by Rugby Australia, we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family," Folau, with his wife Maria, said on Wednesday.

"We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect and strengthen these rights for all Australians."

Ms Castle said she felt she was still the right person to lead RA, and backed the way she and the board had handled the matter.

"I do because at the end of the day this has been very difficult - there's not a business leader that leads an organisation that I've spoken to that hasn't looked at this situation and gone, this is a very difficult thing.

"Ultimately we've had extensive support from the rugby community and also from the wider business community."

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