The Code of Conduct hearing found against the rugby player.

Israel Folau has officially been fired from Rugby Australia over his homophobic social media posts. Back in 2018, he posted that “Hell awaited” gay people unless they repented their sins. And earlier this year, he shared a message in a similar vein.

Following this second post, Israel was sacked, although the matter was referred to a Code of Conduct panel. On Friday (May 17) the panel found against him, and he was officially fired.

Following the verdict, Raelene Castle, the CEO of Rugby Australia said: “People need to feel safe and welcoming the game, regardless of their race, background or sexuality. Mr Folau knew when he pressed that button these were the implications that post was going to have.”

The sacking was welcomed by the co-founder of the Pride in Sport Index, Andrew Purchas. In a statement, he said: “We commend Rugby Australia, as well as New South Wales Rugby Union, for their leadership and courage throughout this process.

“Their swift and decisive actions shows that homophobic and transphobic discrimination is not acceptable in sport and individuals – irrespective of their social or professional stature – will be held accountable for their words and actions.”

It is unknown if Israel Folau will appeal the ruling, but he has 72 hours from Friday’s verdict to do so. In a statement, he said: “Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.”

Israel’s comments were defended by Saracens player Billy Vunipola, however he escaped with only a formal warning from the Rugby Football Union.

A statement from the Saracens regarding Vunipola’s conduct said: “At Saracens, we are one family, open to all with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility… Billy’s intention was to express the word of God rather than cause offence.

“However, he made a serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion, which is inconsistent with the values of the Club and contravenes his contractual obligations. The player has been formally warned about his future conduct.”