Sydney - Fallen
rugby star Israel Folau's social media accounts, which he used to post
the homophobic comments that got him sacked, vanished for several hours
on Monday before being reactivated on the eve of a court hearing into his
The former Wallaby launched legal action against Rugby Australia and
the Waratahs earlier this month, demanding an apology, compensation
and the right to play again.
A largely administrative directions hearing is scheduled at the
Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on Tuesday, where lawyers from each
side will discuss the next steps in the case.
The devoutly Christian Folau has previously refused to remove the
offending online post that "hell awaits" gay people and others he
But on the eve of the hearing both his Instagram and Twitter pages
told users "this account doesn't exist" before being mysteriously
reactivated some four hours later.
Folau's spokesman said no statement would be issued, and would not elaborate on why they were offline.
Super Rugby's record try-scorer, who was on a A$1 million-a-year, four-year contract, was fired by Rugby Australia in May.
Folau opted not to appeal and mediation attempts failed, prompting
him to take the highly divisive unfair dismissal case, which has drawn
support from conservatives and outrage elsewhere, to the courts.
Folau, who has played 73 times for the Wallabies, raised more than
A$2 million in just two days through the Australian Christian Lobby to
help pay his legal fees before the appeal was paused, with enough money
It replaced a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign that was shut down after
raising more than A$700 000, with the platform saying it would not
"tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion".
Folau's claim argues he was unlawfully dismissed under a section of
Australia's Fair Work Act that disallows sackings because of a person's
Rugby Australia has insisted the firing was purely contractual,
saying he had agreed not to disparage anyone over their sexual
orientation following a similar controversy last year.