Aussie Super Rugby players have been warned of their obligations to use social media in a respectful way in a strongly worded memo from boss Raelene Castle in the wake of the Israel Folau row.
She reminded players of their contractual obligations over Rugby Australia's Inclusion Policy and the framework around social media within the Professional Players Code of Conduct, reports the Australian newspaper.
"I'd encourage you to take some time to read these documents," she wrote. "These are not just written documents, they convey our values which we live every day as employees of Rugby Australia. These documents are built around the notion of respect, which is one of the universal values of rugby.
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"These values unite our sport and help us build an inclusive culture for the men, women, boys and girls across Australia who play or are involved in our game at all levels — from community rugby through to the professional level.
"Rugby Australia respects and supports the rights of all players and employees to have their own individual views and to share those views in a respectful way. When we engage in any public commentary, we should be mindful of how our words may be received by the public, including rugby fans, aspiring young rugby players and people at all levels of our game, from the volunteers at a community level right through to the sponsors that invest in our game to make it what it is today."
There is no doubt the memo was aimed at Folau and seemingly represents RA's last hope of dealing respectfully with the player who, many rugby sponsors insist, is now acting out of all control. Any further infringements by him of RA's Inclusion Policy could lead to the national body serving him with a breach notice — which would signal the beginning of the end of his days in rugby.
Meanwhile, league is keeping the doors open to him, with NRL chief Todd Greenberg reiterating its support for Folau to return to the code.
"I have a huge respect for him," Greenberg said. "It's a big decision for him. I don't know whether he wants to come back or not but my principle is always that we have high affection for you, we have high regard for you, if you want to come back and play you are welcome."
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