COMMENT:

The he said, she said tit-for-tat war of words breaking out between Rugby Australia and Israel Folau is not a good look.

Over the weekend we discover Folau wrote to Rugby Australia demanding to know how details from his confidential hearing were made public.

Fair enough, that's uncool and he had every right to ask the question. That letter though, from Folau to Rugby Australia, was also made public.

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So Rugby Australia replied to it publicly by defending their position and stating how disappointed they were in what they called "Folau's ongoing actions and the impact that was having on the game of rugby".

This has become a sideshow that threatens to overshadow the sport in Australia as factions are formed and sides are taken and accusations are hurled back and forth.

Rugby Australia allege a PR firm has been hired by Folau's team to co-ordinate a media campaign in support of his legal action.

Rugby Australia said they were disappointed this campaign was "impacting on the work done by the thousands of volunteers who are delivering great experiences for the rugby community."

They also maintain they've acted with complete professionalism throughout.

But so does Folau. And he feels persecuted for doing so - persecuted for his religious beliefs, he says.

But this is where it all gets a bit icky - and it was always going to be the case when lawyers and big money got involved.

The tactics get dirty and the smears start and the battle in the court of public opinion ramps up.

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Which is not where the battle needs to be fought. It's certainly not where it will be won or lost.

The only place this should be getting played out is inside an actual courtroom.
Not much good comes from public mud slinging, we've seen that time and time again. It's when you start to lose people on both sides.

Sure, it must be beyond frustrating to be on the receiving end of hearsay or scuttlebutt – for both parties - and the temptation to grab the narrative must be huge.

But the only place this really matters in the end is inside the Fair Work Commission, because that is where this thing gets won or lost.

What the media says, what the public thinks, what a PR company might allege, or what someone on the sideline says, all amounts to nothing at the end of the day.

Ironically Rugby Australia ended their statement yesterday by saying they would just be focusing on the legal issues at hand, and "not running media commentary".

I hope that's true, for both sides.