‘Re-signing Israel Folau was a mistake’ – Raelene Castle

Date published: November 11 2019

Rugby Australia (RA) CEO Raelene Castle has admitted that re-signing former Waratahs and Wallabies utility back Israel Folau was a mistake.

Folau was sacked in May after he was found guilty of a high-level Code of Conduct breach for making homophobic comments on social media.

The 30-year-old had already done so before re-signing with RA on a four-year contract worth about AUS$5 million at the start of this year.

The former Wallabies superstar is now seeking AUS$10 million in damages from RA.

And Castle acknowledged that it was an error to re-sign the 73-Test Wallaby as he gave her a commitment not to repeat his homophobic comments.

“In hindsight, yes,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald when asked if it was a mistake to give Folau a new contract.

“But before signing he made the commitment that he would not do it again. It’s very sad because I believed him and I had an agreement that I supported him in being the proud Christian man that he is. And he told me that he would use his social media platforms respectfully.”

When asked to confirm Folau’s commitment, Castle replied: “Absolutely. I said to him you can’t talk disrespectfully about the gay community and he said ‘Raelene I understand’ and he stood up, he shook my hand and he hugged me.

“He said, ‘Absolutely Raelene I understand…’ On top of that he signed an employment contract which has an inclusion policy, a code of conduct and social media policy about respectful use of social media. And he chose not to – well he chose to breach that employment contract.”

Castle claimed she had no choice when deciding whether to renew Folau’s employment.

“If I had said we’re choosing not to re-sign Israel Folau because I don’t trust him that also would have been depicted as madness,” she said.