There has obviously been a lot written on the whole fiasco involving Israel Folau and Rugby Australia, but the reporting has been far than accurate. Take for instance the evidence provided by former Wallaby captain, Nick Farr-Jones, who was recently interviewed by Andrew Bolt. The full interview can be found here:
One aspect that was especially insightful was what Farr-Jones outlined as being the so-called “contractual agreement” the Raelene Castle, the CEO of Rugby Australia, and the Michael Cheika, the coach of the Wallabies, as to “what he could and couldn’t post”. According in Farr-Jones, “the public has been very misled in relation to that as well”. What follows is a transcript from the 7:45 minute mark of the interview:
I thought he’d apologise. I thought he’d say, “Nick, yes I did say to my coach Cheka and I did say to my chief executive Castle that I wouldn’t do those words again.” I think with coach he told, well he exactly told me, that I had one communication, it was by phone, Michael just said to him, “Israel can you be respectful in any of those things… please go ahead and do it… as did his CEO.
He had a meeting with Raylene Castle, last year after the first offence, they didn’t get a meeting of the minds, that’s very clear. He never, ever agreed that he would not do those same kinds of postings. The chief executive just said, “Israel we just want you to be respectful and not offensive in the way you communicate to people.” The chief executive as I understand from talking to Israel then went out and had a press conference and made public statements on behalf of Rugby Australia and said things that Israel said to me were totally misleading…
Farr-Jones then went on to add:
Israel said to me a number of times, Nick if I was ever told I couldn’t, I didn’t have the freedom of being able to communicate my faith, I had to dilute it down, I would never have agreed. And that goes I think to the whole contractual issue. What was signed in writing, what was agreed verbally. He said I would never, ever have agreed to give up my freedom to voice my view to voice my Biblical faith and my faith in general.
So, if there was no written or verbal agreement between Folau and Rugby Australia how can he possibly be guilty of a high-level breach of contract? If what Farr-Jones is saying is correct, then this whole sorry saga just got a whole lot simpler as well as expensive.
Because if it does go all the way to the High Court—as many are predicting—then it’s difficult to see how Rugby Australia are going to financially survive.
Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.
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