Super League votes for 'greater authority' to stop future Folau-style deals

Israel Folau was signed by Catalans Dragons in January

Super League has voted unanimously to have “greater authority” to stop future “controversial signings” such as Israel Folau’s move to Catalans Dragons.

The clubs held crisis talks over the signing of Folau, 30, at a Super League board meeting on Wednesday.

Folau, the sacked Australia rugby union international, has not played a match of any kind for 10 months since writing a homophobic post on social media.

Several clubs have backed Hull KR’s threat of legal action over the deal.

“With the season under way, we now feel it is important for Super League to separate what is an off-field matter from what is happening on the field,” said Robert Elstone, Super League’s chief executive.

Elstone said the Super League board “accepts the legalities” around the Rugby Football League’s decision to register Folau.

But he added: “The board has voted unanimously to put in place measures that ensure the Super League has greater authority to stop controversial signings such as this in the future.

“As a sport, we have an impressive and enviable track record when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion and we will continue our great work in those areas.”

Folau was sacked by Australia Rugby for saying “hell awaits” gay people in a social media post in April 2019 and subsequently reached a settlement with the governing body.

He has begun training with Catalans, but the date of his Super League debut remains unclear as he has numerous fitness tests.

Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch did not attend Wednesday’s meeting but a representative said Folau will not make his Catalans debut at Wakefield on Sunday.

The RFL and Super League both previously said they “deplored” Folau’s comments and it was “a difficult decision” to allow him into the competition.

On Tuesday, the BBC obtained an email, written by Hull KR owner Neil Hudgell, putting the Dragons “on notice” if his club suffered “financial loss” because of the signing of Folau.

Dragons coach Steve McNamara said he “stands by” the decision to give Folau a one-year deal.

Halifax prop Keegan Hirst, Britain’s first openly gay rugby league player, said the decision is “disappointing and frustrating”.

Shortly after the Folau deal was made public, Wigan announced that their match against Catalans at the DW Stadium on 22 March would be “Pride Day”.

Folau’s signing comes after the National Rugby League ruled out his return to Australia’s top-flight competition.

He played in the NRL for Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos and earned representative honours as a Queensland State of Origin player and Australia international.


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