Folau summoned after 'gay people destined for hell' comment
Sydney - Wallabies star Israel Folau was summoned on Thursday to a meeting with Australian rugby chiefs over his use of social media after sparking a backlash by saying gay people were destined to go to hell.
Folau, a three-time Australian player of the year and a devout Christian, made the comment this week to an Instagram follower who asked him what was "God's plan for gay people?"
"HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God," he replied.
The remark appears to breach Rugby Australia's inclusion policy designed to stamp out discrimination and homophobia in the game, and chief executive Raelene Castle distanced the governing body from Folau's views.
She said Folau would meet with her and Andrew Hore, chief executive of his club, the NSW Waratahs, "to discuss his use of social media".
"Israel's comment reflects his personal religious beliefs, however it does not represent the view of Rugby Australia or NSW Rugby," Castle said in a statement.
"We are aligned in our view that rugby is a game for all, regardless of sexuality, race, religion or gender, which is clearly articulated in rugby's inclusion policy.
"We understand that Israel's comment has upset a number of people and we will discuss the matter with him as soon as possible."
Sydney's first gay and inclusive rugby club, the Convicts, said it was disappointed in the Australian fullback.
"Disappointing to see these comments from Israel but his statements do not reflect Rugby Union's attitude to gay people," it tweeted.
"@qantaswallabies @NSWWaratahs @pocockdavid and more are all allies of ours and our community" it added, referring to Australia's national rugby union team, the Waratahs, and the Wallabies star and anti-homophobia campaigner David Pocock.
Twitter users rounded on Folau, slamming him for "promoting hatred".
"It disturbs me how people in this day and age can still harbour such narrow minded views, sad really," wrote Paul Walker, while John Vasek said: "What a fool. Continuing to promote hatred. Fundamentalist Christian imbeciles."
It is not the first time Folau has sparked criticism for his views on gay people. He tweeted his opposition to same-sex marriage last year ahead of Australia legalising such unions.
One of the key proponents of same-sex marriage was Qantas Airways chief Alan Joyce.
The airline is a key sponsor of the Wallabies and it also came in for criticism on Thursday.
"As a major sponsor for the wallabies are you ok with @IzzyFolau homophobic outburst?," tweeted one person, while another suggested the carrier should drop its sponsorship of the team.