Israel Folau holds a few cards in his fight with Rugby Australia. Picture: AP
Israel Folau holds a few cards in his fight with Rugby Australia. Picture: AP

Folau’s fight moves to top end of town

The drawn out procedures to decide the fate of Israel Folau, has caught out Rugby Australia again, forcing a change of venues for the remainder of the hearing.

With the initial expectation that it would only take a day, two at the most, for the three-member panel to hear all the evidence before adjourning to make a decision, Rugby Australia made its headquarters at Moore Park available over the weekend.

That didn't take into account the mountain of arguments that the lawyers for both sides had, which has prompted the case to go into a third day after 15 hours of debate over the weekend.

With staff back at work in RA's offices, there's no longer any room for the highly secretive hearing to take place, so it's been moved to law offices at ANZ Tower, one of the tallest skyscrapers in the CBD.

Israel Folau holds a few cards in his fight with Rugby Australia. Picture: AP
Israel Folau holds a few cards in his fight with Rugby Australia. Picture: AP

Given the protracted manner of the case so far and the high stakes for both Folau and the game, there's no guarantee the proceedings will wrap up on Tuesday, let alone when a decision will be announced.

RA has said it expected the three panellists, John West, Kate Eastman and John Boultbee, would need another two days before publishing their verdict, but the longer the hearing goes, the longer the wait for a ruling could take so all bets are off for now.

Regardless of whatever decision is made, the verdict will still be subject to appeal so the case could be far from over yet, unless a settlement is reached and Folau has already rejected the first olive branch he was offered.

 

Folau after his hearing.
Folau after his hearing.

 

Adamant that he did nothing wrong by posting messages from the Bible on his social media accounts, Folau gave evidence on the opening day of the hearing, as did Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and RA chief executive Raelene Castle, who both insist Folau gave his word that he wouldn't post anything that was considered to be homophobic after being warned last year.

Castle was called in again on Sunday to provide more testimony, along with the NSW Rugby boss Andrew Hore, and could reappear on Tuesday.

While Folau's fate hangs his balance and the whole of Australia is arguing about the ethical questions that have been raised during the case, his Waratahs teammates have almost forgotten about it because they're in South Africa preparing for Saturday's clash with the Lions.

Rugby and religion normally go hand-in-hand in South Africa, but with the general election taking place this week, and the country still fuming after the double Olympic champion Caster Semenya lost her case with the world governing body for athletics, the Waratahs haven't heard a peep about Folau.

"I think there's a bit of a political thing going on at the moment over here," Waratahs backrower Ned Hanigan said. "So there's a fair bit of that stuff around but not really (any news on Folau)."

News Corp Australia


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