Israel Folau has been found to have committed a “high-level breach” in his code of conduct hearing set by Rugby Australia over homophobic social media posts he made last month.
The 30-year-old devout Christian said on his Instagram account that “hell awaits” for “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators”.
The Wallabies full-back requested a code of conduct hearing after he was issued with a breach notice by Rugby Australia, which would warrant the termination of his employment contract.
The three-day hearing ended with a three-person panel concluding “Folau committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019”.
A statement from Rugby Australia continued: “The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction.
“A further update will be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction.”
Folau, who has played 62 Tests for Australia since making his debut in 2013, was warned a year ago for making homophobic comments on social media, but escaped disciplinary action.
Having published similarly divisive views once again, however, Rugby Australia announced its intention to sack one of the sport’s most gifted players in a move that would rule him out of the World Cup.
Folau has stood by his view in posts that remain visible and has said he would rather accept the end of his career than issue a retraction.
“It’s obviously a decision that’s in the process right now but I believe in a God that’s in control of all things,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald last month.
“Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do.”
Folau has been stood down by the NSW Waratahs and his rugby union career in Australia appears over, while a return to his roots in league has been ruled out by the Australian Rugby League.
The fallout has been felt in the northern hemisphere after England number eight Billy Vunipola offered support for his view on his own Instagram account, resulting in a formal warning from the Rugby Football Union.