Former Wallabies star Clyde Rathbone has shut down Alan Jones and called Israel Folau "extremely ignorant" as the storm continues to rage over the rugby icon's future.
An independent panel found Folau guilty of a "high level" contract breach during a code of conduct hearing in Sydney.
The panel is now weighing up what penalty to hand out for his Instagram post that said "hell awaits" gay people. There's a possibility his $4 million contract with Rugby Australia will be torn up or he may escape with a suspension and/or fine.
Ex-Wallabies coach turned broadcaster Jones slammed the "Orwellian treatment" of Folau on-air yesterday during his breakfast radio program with 2GB, saying the 30-year-old should not be punished for airing his beliefs.
"Nothing wrong with Israel, it's the society and those who prosecute him who are sick," Jones said. "But the cancer won't kill us, it's the cancer that will be removed, not Israel. The Australian people won't accept this."
In a first-person piece for Players Voice, South African-born Rathbone — who played 26 Tests for the Wallabies and more than 60 games for the ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby — hit back at Jones' assessment of the situation.
"Radio presenter Alan Jones, in particular, seems to be doing his best to position Israel as a victim, calling the Rugby Australia ruling 'Orwellian'," Rathbone wrote.
"This is nonsense. I'd like to ask Alan if he believes his employer, commercial radio station, 2GB, is obligated to continue employing him regardless of his speech?
"Alan Jones could quote from the Bible to lend his support to slavery, torture and murder. Can he continue to do so and keep his job? I think he cannot. And yet this is analogous to the Folau situation in every way."
Rathbone is a passionate advocate of free speech and doesn't believe anyone should lose their job for expressing their beliefs — unless in "extreme" cases where a contract is breached. Although he admires Folau's courage and conviction to stand up for what he believes in, Rathbone says there's no other option but for him to be sacked.
"This feels like a line in the sand moment. Not just for Rugby Australia but sport in general. And society," Rathbone wrote. "Are we brave enough to criticise bad ideas regardless of where they originated?
"For me, Israel is free to say whatever he chooses, but he is not free to force Rugby Australia to continue employing him if he has breached his contract by promoting views which undermine the organisation's values.
"He doesn't seem to have posted divisive content online for malicious reasons. He's standing up for what he believes in. While I could not possibly disagree with him more strongly, I do admire the fact that he has the courage of his convictions."
Rathbone is confident Folau's teams — the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs — will be able to move forward without too much disruption once a final decision on the star fullback's future is made.
He also said the religious community Folau is involved with may be responsible for his "strange ideas".
"I feel for him as a person. He's got strange ideas in his head and he didn't necessarily choose them. He appears to be caught up in a relatively small community of zealots," Rathbone wrote.
"He's not intentionally going out of his way to hurt anybody. He's just extremely ignorant. I don't doubt that he thinks he's being helpful. But good intentions aren't good enough. You have to have good ideas.
"When he posted the material that has now landed him in hot water he would have been completely aware that he was crossing a line he said he would not cross. And he would have crossed that line with the full knowledge that it would disrupt the teams he represents.
"The good news is that, once a final resolution has been reached, the team will adjust quickly. Teams are generally very good at dealing with players coming in, going out, these fluctuations are part of the natural cycle in sport."