Israel Folau’s sporting future remains uncertain. Picture: Getty Images
Israel Folau’s sporting future remains uncertain. Picture: Getty Images

Will Folau play again? Will Castle survive RA axe?

Despite what both sides will claim, there's no real winner from Israel Folau's settlement with Rugby Australia as both offered sheepish apologies on issues they were so unyielding on for months

 

THE KEY QUESTIONS

 

WHAT'S THE FIGURE?

 

There will be no end to the speculation about how much Folau actually received but the true figure may never be known because of the strict confidentiality agreement that both parties signed after calling a truce to their bitter eight-month wrangle.

However there was speculation on Wednesday night it was as high as $8 million. Folau had been pushing for as much as $14 million.

 

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Israel and Maria Folau outside the Federal Court in Melbourne on Monday. Picture: Getty Images
Israel and Maria Folau outside the Federal Court in Melbourne on Monday. Picture: Getty Images

WHO'S THE WINNER?

 

No one, despite what both sides will claim. For all his talk about being vindicated and the support he's gained, the once-idolised Folau has also lost a lot of public support, even from his most vocal backers, and missing out on playing for his country and appearing at the World Cup will have hurt him. For Rugby Australia it's been a public relations disaster, on and off the field. Damned if they do, damned if they don't, the Wallabies went to the dogs after he departed and the game's reputation has been hugely damaged by the controversy.

 

CAN CASTLE SURVIVE?

 

RA boss Raelene Castle has been under the pump from the moment she took the job and the end of the Folau saga won't release the pressure on her to leave. She inherited a lot of problems, and her supporters will argue that she was let down by Folau after he gave her his word he would not post any more homophobic religious comments after he was warned the first time. But her failure to insist on a clause being included in Folau's contract extension before he re-signed was a grave misjudgment which may have prevented the whole saga from happening. Major changes are already coming for the RA board, including the appointment of a new chairman, which could make it even harder for Castle to continue.

 

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle remains under pressure. Picture: Sarah Matray
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle remains under pressure. Picture: Sarah Matray

WHAT TOOK SO LONG?

 

Both sides were too stubborn from the outset. In the immediate hours after posting his anti-gay comments, Folau did not respond to attempts to contact him from RA so before they had even sat down, RA announced they were planning to terminate his contract. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, captain Michael Hooper and Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson then held a conference effectively saying Folau was no longer welcome by players and Folau dug his heels in and refused to yield.

 

WHY SETTLE TODAY?

 

RA always had more incentive to end the saga than Folau. Time and money weren't a concern for Folau. With no team to play for, he had all the time in the world and with a $3 million kitty from his crowdfundng campaigns, he also had the bucks to go all the way. Financially, RA was covered by insurance but a drawn out court case would only further damage the game, which is already struggling with poor crowds, the woeful performance by the Wallabies at the World Cup, Cheika's ugly exit and growing anger at the administration.

 

WHY THE APOLOGIES?

 

The most telling point from the joint statement was that both sides apologised to each other over the exact things they were rowing about so fiercely for months. If there was a moral high ground, neither Folau nor RA can claim it now after making major concessions in order to get the deal done.

Folau’s sporting future remains uncertain. Picture: Getty Images
Folau’s sporting future remains uncertain. Picture: Getty Images

WHAT NEXT FOR FOLAU?

 

Some bookies reckon he's at short odds to become a preacher and that might be the safest bet. Although there's been nothing to confirm whether or not he'd been allowed back to union, it's hard to see him being welcomed back into the game he divided. The NRL have already said he's not welcome back in league, though his settlement may change that, and he was a bust in AFL so forget about that. If he wants to play again, his best options are overseas, either in Japan or France, though that would mean leaving his family church so sermons on Sunday could be his future.

News Corp Australia


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