Israel Folau has lodged a statement of claim against Rugby Australia in the Federal Court, claiming that the termination of his contract was unreasonable.
Folau was sacked for sharing a picture on his Instagram back in April which said gay people were doomed to hell. His post targeted, in his words, “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists [and] idolaters”.
In the 26-page statement of claim, Folau asserts that his sacking by Rugby Australia is “unreasonable” as it places an unreasonable limit on his ability to play.
The thrust of this particular argument is that, because Folau is only eligible to play for the Wallabies at the most elite tier of rugby, booting him from the Wallabies is an unenforceable “restraint on trade”:
Mr Folau can no longer play rugby union at an international level (because he is only eligible to play for the Wallabies) or for an Australian team in the Super Rugby competition and is therefore an unreasonable restraint of trade, contrary to public policy and void.
Additionally, Folau says that the rugby Australia tribunal which handed down the decision did not make a “valid finding” and therefore the decision to sack him was invalid.
Folau claims that his Instagram post represented his “real and genuine” religious beliefs. Furthermore, he claims his posts are made on his own time and are “substantially unrelated” to rugby.
Rugby Australia continues to assert that Folau’s posts contravened the organisation’s code of conduct, meaning the termination of his contract was therefore valid.
Folau is suing Rugby Australia for $10 million in damages, including a $5.7 million payout for the remainder of his contract.
If the parties can’t settle in court-directed mediation, it’ll go to trial in February next year.