Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne has broken his silence on the Israel Folau saga and has hinted sponsorship concerns did play a role in axing the former Wallabies star.
Israel Folau has had his four-year, $4 million contract with Rugby Australia terminated because of his controversial social media posts about gays and other so-called “sinners” he believes are destined for hell.
Clyne has remained silent throughout the long ordeal that has gripped Australia and the sporting world.
But speaking to The Ticket, Clyne hinted commercial factors did come into the decision to axe Folau because sponsors and companies want to be seen working with an inclusive Rugby Australia.
"If they can point out an organisation where posting this would be acceptable we'd be interested to hear [from them] and also a sponsor that'd be happy to be associated with that," he said, according to the ABC.
"The reality is that the overwhelming number of companies and the overwhelming number of sponsors would not want to be associated with a post that generated harm."
When Clyne was asked how much of the decision to tear up Folau’s contract was commercial, he replied “the game doesn’t exist without sponsors.”
"The overwhelming response we hear around the world is that organisations want to be involved with sports that are inclusive … I think you have to take a stand."
Speaking from Rugby’s headquarters in Dublin where all the game’s leaders have gathered for the 2019 world meeting, Clyne said the game would have suffered further damage to its reputation if they hadn’t axed Folau.
"Yes, the game has suffered reputationally through this, but had we not dealt with this in a clear and decisive way the game would have suffered way more, there is no question of that," he said.
Barnaby Joyce weighs in
Barnaby Joyce has been slammed on social media after weighing into the ugly Israel Folau saga.
The Nationals MP took to Twitter on Friday with his take on the religious freedoms debate that’s engulfed the political and sporting landscapes.
“If we are going to support religious freedoms then start with the ARU’s approach to Israel Folau,” Joyce tweeted.
“They may not be my views but he shouldn’t be sacked because of his on how he gets to “heaven”. He wasn’t preaching violence.”
While Joyce is certainly entitled to his opinion, many social media users felt he should’ve been focusing on bigger issues.