Israel Folau and Rugby Australia are headed for a bitter showdown with the embattled Wallabies superstar pledging to tackle the governing body head on in a desperate bid to save his career.
Folau met RA boss Raelene Castle on Friday, with neither party backing down in a feud that threatened to turn ugly.
RA on Thursday released a statement in which they expressed their intention to terminate Folau’s lucrative contract.
But in a stunning twist, The Australian is reporting that Folau will attempt to use a ‘legal loophole’ to keep his contract.
According to The Australian, Folau and manager Isaac Moses believe the grounds for his sacking will not hold up in court.
“The fact that RA and the Waratahs went ahead and made a public announcement of their intention to fire him without going through a Code of Conduct hearing could potentially leave the two rugby bodies legally exposed,” The Australian’s Wayne Smith wrote on Saturday.
“Indeed, in their seven-paragraph statement RA chief executive Raelene Castle and her NSW counterpart Andrew Hore did not once mention a Code of Conduct hearing and it could be argued that he was being denied due process.”
The Australian also reports that a clause in Folau’s recently-signed $4 million contract preventing him from voicing his religious beliefs on social media may also be legally iffy.
“Under the General Contracting section of the CBA, the only additional clauses that can be inserted into a standard player contract are those that are beneficial or potentially beneficial to the player,” Smith said.
“Certainly any clause that permitted Rugby Australia to sack Folau if he posted comments on social media that were deemed to be divisive or discriminatory would hardly be viewed as being ‘beneficial’.”
Folau maintained a stony silence after earlier holding crisis talks amid RA’s threat to tear up his multi-million-dollar contract following his latest attacks on homosexuals.
Supported by his professional netballer wife Maria, the three-time John Eales Medallist spent the morning at a Sydney cafe with Rugby Union Players’ Association boss Prataal Raj and another RUPA representative plotting his next move.
He refused to talk when approached by a TV reporter, but it’s understood Folau told Raj he wanted to observe his right to challenge RA’s planned sacking at a code of conduct hearing.
Rugby Australia later released a telling joint statement with the NSW Waratahs.
“Our joint position regarding Israel Folau is unchanged,” it said.
“Following today’s meeting, the two organisations will update their respective boards on the matter to consider next steps.”