Israel Folau has launched legal action against Rugby Australia and club side the Waratahs after his playing contract was terminated over controversial social media posts.
Folau’s £2.15million, four-year deal was cut short after an independent panel backed RA’s position that the comments he made on April 10 warranted his sacking rather than a fine or suspension.
The 30-year-old devout Christian said on his Instagram account that “hell awaits” for “drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters”.
Legal representatives for Folau have confirmed to Press Association Sport they have filed an application to the Australian Fair Work Commission and are seeking a declaration that his employment was unlawfully terminated because of his religion.
Folau, who also played rugby league for the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos before switching codes, said: “I will forever be grateful and proud to have played the sport I love for our nation.
“Ours is an amazing country built on important principles, including freedom of religion. A nation made up of so many different faiths and cultural backgrounds will never be truly rich unless this freedom applies to all of us.
“The messages of support we have received over these difficult few weeks have made me realise there are many Australians who feel their fundamental rights are being steadily eroded.
“No Australian of any faith should be fired for practising their religion.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Saracens beat Exeter last weekend to clinch their fourth Premiership title in five seasons.
Here, we grade the performances of all 12 teams in the competition.
2018/19 record: Won 10, Draw 2 Lost 10
Another mixed season for a talented team sprinkled with seasoned internationals. It was a tale of inconsistencies and missed opportunities as Todd Blackadder’s side finished sixth and scraped into the Champions Cup for next season. With the Kiwi set to depart the club, can new coach Stuart Hooper turn around fortunes at the Rec next season?
2018/19 record: Won 9, Draw 1, Lost 12
A cracking first season back in the Premiership. The Ashton Gate outfit may have finished ninth, and 20 points off relegation, but were only a bonus-point win away from finishing fourth, such was the close gap between the middle teams. If late kicks were converted against Sale and Worcester, they could have qualified for a semi-final.
2018/19 record: Won 17, Lost 5
Exact same record as last season and exact same finish. Runners-up to Saracens. Rob Baxter’s side will be disappointed with their European form, but showed no signs of wilting on the domestic stage, reaching a fourth consecutive final. For a team once considered average, there is so much to admire about their rise to the top of English rugby.
2018/19 record: Won 13, Draw 1, Lost 8
Johan Ackermann’s men were one of the teams of the season, reaching the league semi-finals and looking like a vibrant force for much of the campaign. It was the club’s best finish for eight seasons before losing to European champions Saracens in a one-sided last four clash. Boasted the league’s finet player in Danny Cipriani.
2018/19 record: Won 10, Lost 12
A vast improvement upon last season. The one disappointment will be that they looked odds-on to secure a play-off spot for most of the season, but finished poorly with six defeats in their last seven games. In Alex Dombrandt, ‘Quins had one of the stand-out players of the season.
2018/19 record: Won 7, Lost 15
A poor season for Geordan Murphy and Co. One of the worst years in the club’s history saw them finish 11th and fortunate not to be relegated. Mike Ford is a significant addition to the coaching ticket, but removing Murphy will not be the answer to their problems if the struggle continues. The board needs to be held accountable for some poor appointments and terrible squad recruitment.
2018/19 record: Won 6, Lost 16
A disastrous campaign for a team that reached the semi-finals the previous season. The Toon outfit suffered relegation after winning just six matches. Will be hoping to push for championship promotion straight away.
2018/19 record: Won 11, Lost 11
Saints were in a bad place 12 months ago, finishing 10th in the Premiership, without a director of rugby and with a squad who had forgotten what it was like to produce consistent and winning rugby. For them to respond so effectively this season and reach the last four is a credit to the hard work of the players and coaching staff.
2018/19 record: Won 11, Draw 2, Lost 9
The Manchester side will be disappointed to have missed out on Champions Cup qualification, finishing eighth in the table. Poor
defeats against Newcastle and Leicester cost them a place in the top-five, but to see highly-rated Tom Curry step up another level is something for the Sharks to be excited about.
2018/19 record: Won 16, Lost 6
The Men in Black are comfortably the best club team in the game, winning a fourth domestic title in five years. With the signing of Elliot Daly from Wasps, it is hard to see the North London side relinquish their European or league crowns any time soon. Boast the best attacking record and second best defensive record. An immovable force.
2018/19 record: Won 10, Lost 12
A major rebuilding project will continue this summer as 12 players depart the Ricoh Arena, including key men Nathan Hughes, Willie le Roux and Daly. Head coach Dai Young has the backing of the board but performances look way off two seasons ago when they reached the league final. The Coventry side drop into the European second-tier competition for the first time since the 2013/14 season.
2018/19 record: Won 9, Lost 13
The Warriors endured a poor season despite two more wins than their 2017/18 campaign. Their attacking and defensive record was worse also. However, they finished season strongly with three wins in last four games, including a narrow home victory over champion Saracens.
Saracens completed a memorable European and domestic double after retaining the Premiership title by beating Exeter 37-34 at Twickenham.
The teams shared 10 tries during unquestionably the greatest Premiership final in its 16-year history.
Exeter led after just 28 seconds when scrum-half Nic White claimed the quickest Premiership final touchdown, but Saracens ultimately prevailed.
The Chiefs led by 11 points after an hour, yet Saracens produced a stellar comeback.
Wings Liam Williams and Sean Maitland touched down, following earlier tries from hooker Jamie George and scrum-half Ben Spencer, before George added a second and Farrell kicked 12 points.
White, flanker Dave Ewers, lock Jonny Hill, centre Henry Slade and substitute Sam Hill crossed for Exeter, and Joe Simmonds added three conversions and a penalty, but the Chiefs once again experienced Twickenham heartbreak.
It was the third time in four seasons for the 2017 champions to lose a final – all against Saracens – as Farrell and company followed up European title success three weeks ago with another trophy.
And it meant a second double in four years, emulating Leicester as only the second English club to achieve such a feat.
Both teams were unchanged following their play-off victories last weekend, with Saracens captain Brad Barritt overcoming a hamstring injury that forced him off against Gloucester to start.
And the final began in remarkable fashion, with 12 points being scored inside the opening five minutes.
Exeter kicked off, but Saracens and England lock George Kruis fumbled possession, giving the Chiefs the chance to attack on front-foot ball and White crossed from close range for a try that Simmonds converted.
Full Time | Saracens are the Gallagher Premiership Champions!— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) June 1, 2019
What a comeback. What a performance. What a final!
Final Score EXE 34 SAR 37 pic.twitter.com/Zk6C1apqGd
But Saracens responded, launching an initial attack that ended when Slade deliberately knocked on a pass from full-back Alex Goode to Maitland, and was sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes as a result.
Slade had barely left the pitch before Saracens drove a lineout from the resulting penalty, and George crashed over.
Farrell missed the conversion, but he landed a 35-metre penalty shortly afterwards and Saracens led 8-7 following a breathless start.
Saracens then extended their lead following a Billy Vunipola scrum charge that spread Exeter’s defence, and Spencer touched down to open up a 13-7 advantage.
Farrell again could not add the extras, and Exeter replied following another frantic passage of play that started with them laying siege to Saracens’ line.
Saracens were reduced to frantic defending, and flanker Maro Itoje, who was sin-binned during the Champions Cup final victory over Leinster, again saw yellow, and Exeter did not require a second invitation to pounce.
⭐️ Your Man of the Match ⭐️— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) June 1, 2019
👉 @maroitoje 👈
Abrasive, supremely competitive and an inexhaustible engine when others around are running out of puff ⛽️
The @Saracens talisman once again demonstrated world-class quality on the biggest stage 👏
Top 3 locks in the world? pic.twitter.com/HZQqjrJOgB
A man down, Saracens could not hold out under sustained pressure, and Ewers claimed Exeter’s second try before Smmonds’ conversion gave them a one-point advantage.
And the Chiefs moved further ahead nine minutes before the break when Slade and his England colleague Jack Nowell linked superbly in midfield, before Hill touched down.
Simmonds’ conversion glanced off the post, then Farrell booted a 40-metre penalty that cut the deficit to three points, but Simmonds responded and Exeter trooped off 22-16 ahead at the break.
Barritt, though, did not return for the second period, being replaced by Nick Tompkins, before Spencer went off for a head injury assessment as Saracens suffered a disruptive opening.
Saracens dominated much of the third quarter, but Exeter continued to hassle and chase them, making life distinctly uncomfortable for their opponents.
And such in-the-face-pressure was rewarded through a fourth try, with Slade the beneficiary following brilliant work by replacement lock Sam Skinner.
But Saracens responded again and Williams struck after a Farrell kick, with the fly-half’s conversion making it 27-23.
Maitland then crossed 12 minutes from time, with Farrell converting, and although the fly-half missed a later penalty chance, George’s second touchdown sealed the deal and Saracens were home, despite Hill’s late effort that Simmonds converted.
Provided by Press Association Sport