World Rugby have no plans to implement a fresh crackdown on homophobia despite a spate of controversies.

Australia full back Israel Folau reiterated yesterday the religious beliefs which underpinned his comment earlier this month that gay people would go to hell 'unless they repent their sins'.

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The storm caused by his outburst followed France centre Mathieu Bastareaud's ban for calling an Italian rival a 'faggot', and Sale's England wing Denny Solomona was last week contentiously found guilty of using similarly inflammatory language in a match.


Under World Rugby's law 9.12, sanctions can be imposed on a player who is deemed to have engaged in verbal abuse which 'includes, but is not limited to, abuse based on; religion, colour, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation'.

According to the governing body's chief executive, Brett Gosper, the current measures are sufficient and must be utilised with care.

'We have a strong enough position already,' the Australian told the Daily Mail. 'We are a very inclusive sport and we are clear on these issues. There has to be a balance in terms of freedom of speech as well. There are laws of inclusion and laws about freedom of speech, so it is very difficult, but rugby is clearly an inclusive sport in every way.'

Gosper and his colleagues at World Rugby have been besieged by controversy lately.

Aside from the homophobia episodes, the European section of the World Cup qualifying process has disintegrated amid bitter acrimony.

First, Spain were aggrieved by the performance of Romanian officials — appointed by Rugby Europe, the continent's governing body — who presided over their shock defeat in Belgium, which allowed Romania to qualify automatically for next year's showpiece ahead of Spain.

Then came eligibility doubts about Spanish and Romanian players, which meant that World Rugby's intention to order a replay of the Belgium v Spain game was deferred, pending further investigations.

Whatever the outcome, it has been a PR calamity for the sport and change is afoot. 'We have been uncomfortable with the look of this,' said Gosper. 'We don't like the situation, which has become very complicated.

'An independent judicial committee is reviewing it but we will come out of this feeling that we need more control, certainly in the appointment of match officials and even maybe over some of the eligibility issues. When it becomes a Rugby World Cup qualifier, we have to step up to ensure that we are happy that games are played with full integrity in every way.'

While planning for next year's tournament in Japan remains a primary focus, there is also the small matter of the new global season to resolve. It is understood that the fine print will be confirmed at meetings in London next month. Latest indications are that Premiership Rugby's bid to extend the window for domestic campaigns by a month, to usher in an era of 11-month seasons from 2020, is dead in the water.

That scenario is not only pleasing for players, who threatened to go on strike, it is also a cause of satisfaction within World Rugby. 'I think that is a good outcome, if that is the outcome,' said Gosper. 'Players need their rest.

'When we were having conversations about the calendar — and PRL were in the room — there was talk about a shift of the season, not an extension of it, so we were surprised when PRL came out and said the season is still going to start in September. We communicated that surprise to PRL.'

One downside of the new model will be a reduction of Lions tours, which are set to feature eight games over five weeks from 2021 — down from 10 games over six weeks.