Israel Folau linked with shock return to rugby union

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, Israel Folau is being tipped for a return to rugby union.
Two French clubs are reportedly lining up Israel Folau for a return to rugby union. Pic: Getty

Israel Folau is being lined up to make a return to rugby union, according to reports out of France.

The controversial former Wallaby joined rugby league side the Catalans Dragons after being dumped by Rugby Australia for posting homophobic messages on social media.

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Folau eventually received a big payout from RA about a protracted and ugly legal dispute that started in 2019.

The three-time John Eales medallist made an instant impact after returning to rugby league, with Folau taking just six minutes to score a try for the Dragons in the Super League.

The 31-year-old's season with the Dragons was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, however, Folau did commit to play with the club again in 2021 after signing an agreement in July.

“We are delighted that Israel has committed to the Dragons for 2021,” Dragons coach Steve McNamara said at the time.

“The most impressive asset he showed in the short period before the confinement was his willingness to work hard for the team.”

Seen here, Israel Folau in action with the Catalans Dragons.
Folau impressed during his first season with the Catalans Dragons. Pic: Getty

Rugby publication Midi Olympique claims Folau is being closely monitored by several French rugby clubs, with a view to enticing him back to the 15-a-side game.

The French outlet has named Toulon and Bayonne as the two clubs most heavily linked with signing Folau once his deal with Catalans runs out this year.

It's understood Folau turned down an approach from French rugby club Montpellier Herault last year.

While the outspoken star's natural ability would be an asset for any side, Folau's chequered past could prove a stumbling block for prospective new clubs.

French player slams Folau’s beliefs

Racing 92 star Simon Zebo has already spoken out in unflattering terms about the prospect of playing against Folau in rugby union.

“If he is playing opposite me there is nothing I can do. I wouldn’t let my team down by not playing,” Zebo said on RugbyPass Offload.

“I have no time for (Folau’s beliefs), no time for any of his thoughts or things like that. It’s an unbelievably backward type of mentality. It’s such a shame. He’s such a talented guy, a really, really good player but I personally have a serious issue with that. There’s racism, there’s homophobia – these are things that I hold on the same level.

“I have three kids now and if all three of them decided to be gay when they grow up, me and him are going to have serious issues because having a father who plays rugby, they will know who Israel Folau is and they will see all these things – you know the way social media is in this day and age.

“What it could do to people, internally how it could brainwash them into these negative things, basically saying you are going to hell if you’re gay, I have no time for it and it does way more harm than any good that he sees he is trying to do. There are too many people out there that have issues with coming out.”

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