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Controversial Former Wallaby Israel Folau Linked With Return To Rugby Union

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Controversial Former Wallaby Israel Folau Linked With Return To Rugby Union

Israel Folau has been linked with a return to rugby union.

According to newspaper Midi Olympique, a number of French clubs including Toulon and Montpellier are interested in signing the former Australian fullback.

Folau, who is currently plying his trade in the English Super League, recently signed a one-year contract extension with the Catalan Dragons.

Folau made headlines when he decided to remain standing instead of taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Credit: PA
Folau made headlines when he decided to remain standing instead of taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Credit: PA
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These new rumours come just two years after Folau's public split with Rugby Australia.

At the start of 2019, Folau was found to have breached Rugby Australia's code of conduct when he posted homophobic content on his social media channels.

Despite multiple warnings from Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle, the former NRL and AFL star continued to violate the code of conduct with his religious Instagram posts which saw his four-year contract with the Wallabies and Waratahs terminated.

Things then took another ugly turn when Folau launched legal proceedings against the sport's governing body - a desperate move that ultimately came to nothing.

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Banished from union, he then looked to rugby league teams for a lifeline.

Thankfully for him, he found one in the Catalan Dragons - although the club received plenty of backlash for welcoming him in with open arms.

Folau somewhat revived his career by switching over to rugby league. Credit: PA
Folau somewhat revived his career by switching over to rugby league. Credit: PA

As a three-time John Eales medallist and Super Rugby's all-time leading try-scorer, it seems Folau's stocks are still relatively high in the eyes of rugby teams - despite his beliefs.

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But not everyone is best pleased with the rumours that he could be jetting off to France.

Racing 92 and Ireland winger Simon Zebo isn't too keen on the idea of lining up against Folau in France's Top 14 competition - and his reasons have nothing to do with Folau's playing ability.

"If he is playing opposite me there is nothing I can do. I wouldn't let my team down by not playing," Zebo told Rugby Pass.

"I have no time for that [Folau's beliefs], no time for any of his thoughts or things like that. It's an unbelievably backwards 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.

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"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.

Ireland's Simon Zebo tackles Australia's Israel Folau in 2014. Credit: PA
Ireland's Simon Zebo tackles Australia's Israel Folau in 2014. Credit: PA

"There are people in our game, like [respected referee] Nigel Owens who would be way more of a global figure to our game than someone like Israel Folau. He is able to whatever he is able to do, he probably has mouths to feed, but for Toulon and these clubs to be linked to him, it's not a good look for those clubs either because they are kind of endorsing his beliefs by saying, 'Come play with us, share a changing room with these guys'."

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This isn't the first time other rugby players have taken exception to Folau's past comments.

And don't expect it to be the last time either.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Israel Folau, Rugby Australia, Wallabies, Rugby Union, Australia

Max Sherry
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