After 12 hours of negotiations, Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have not come to a resolution over his sacking, but talks will continue on Wednesday.
- Folau is suing Rugby Australia for $14 million and is demanding an apology after being sacked for his post on social media
- Last week Folau increased his compensation claim from $10 million to $14 million
- Folau is a hardline Christian who also recently claimed fatal bushfires were God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage
Mediation between Folau and Rugby Australia began at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Monday morning, in the hope of avoiding a trial over the former rugby star’s sacking.
Folau’s contract was terminated by Rugby Australia in May after he posted to social media that homosexuals, among others, would go to hell.
He claims he was wrongfully dismissed by Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW and has taken them to court, asking for $14 million in compensation and an apology.
His solicitor George Haros told reporters in Melbourne late on Monday evening they weren’t able to reach an “amicable solution” just yet.
“However, where we stand is that mediation remains on foot and (we) are hopeful to reach one (an agreement) in the coming days,” he said.
Photo: Israel Folau held a prayer circle outside court before entering mediation with Rugby Australia. (ABC News)
The sacked Wallaby and his netballer wife Maria Folau were at court on Monday.
Folau was greeted by supporters holding banners outside court, and he held a praying circle with them, before going inside.
Rugby Australia has said it is more determined than ever to fight the unfair dismissal case.
Outside court, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle said Folau’s decision to keep making inflammatory comments since his sacking proved they had done the right thing.
“We’ve had many messages and emails of support and it’s these messages from those within our community and the wider sports community that leaves us in no doubt that we are doing what’s right. Israel’s commentary subsequent to his termination have only reinforced this belief,” Ms Castle said.
The former rugby league and AFL player last week said the Wallabies would have done better in the 2019 Rugby World Cup if he was playing.
“I understand that not everyone shares my faith and some find it difficult to reconcile with their own beliefs,” Folau said in a video posted on his website before the meeting.
“I want to be clear that I only share passages from the Bible as a gesture of love.
“We pray that we might all find redemption and peace in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as we head to today’s mediation, we also ask that He watches over us, so that both parties might realise the courage to uphold the truth.”
Photo: Folau and his wife Maria left after the mediation session, which took about 12 hours. (ABC News)
Ms Castle said a tribunal found Folau had committed a high level breach of his contract and he had refused to curb his social media use.
“Israel admitted he had caused harm with his comments and stated that he would not curb his social media use and will post whatever he likes whenever he feels the need to share his views,” she said.
“Rugby Australia is confident in its legal position but we come here today with a genuine desire to find a settlement that is sensible and reasonable so that we can return all our focus and resources to growing the game of rugby across Australia.”
After talks ended on Monday night, Rugby Australia put out a short statement confirming talks had been adjourned, and that negotiations would resume at 11.30am on Wednesday.