On April 10, just months after Israel Folau signed a lucrative new multi-season contract with Rugby Australia, he made a decision that would change his life.

By that point in his career, Folau had already caused a stir on social media.

The 30-year-old had grown up as a Mormon but became an active member of an Assemblies of God fellowship in 2011.

It was then that he changed his Twitter profile to say "Living for Jesus Christ #TeamJesus" and began posting increasingly fundamentalist views.


The first sign of trouble was in April 2018 when Folau posted that gay people were destined for hell and tweeted a link to a video opposing same-sex marriage.

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Rugby Australia, which has a policy of inclusiveness, reprimanded him after a fierce public backlash.

For a year after that it seemed the telling-off had done the job.

But, on April 10, Folau spectacularly reignited the controversy when he took to Instagram and posted a banner that read: "Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You. Repent! Only Jesus Saves."

The day after, Rugby Australia announced it would terminate Folau's contract, and the following month he was found guilty of breaching the sporting body's code of conduct.

With key Wallabies sponsor Qantas livid and criticism building, Rugby Australia sensationally sacked Folau for breach of contract on May 17.

Israel Folau. Photo / Photosport
Israel Folau. Photo / Photosport

Standing defiant, Folau launched his legal fight against his disimissal in June and made a GoFundMe page to fund his fees.


This page was shut down later that month, but the Australian Christian Lobby began a new campaign the following day.

Speaking to Alan Jones shortly after, Folau said Rugby Australia offered him money to take his social media post down, a claim the body denied.

With Folau demanding $10 million in compensation, the sportsman and Rugby Australia failed to reach an agreement in a conciliation meeting on June 28.

It was around this time that the Wallabies – who Folau had been one of the star players for — were gearing up for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

However, the headlines in the months leading up to the tournament were dominated by Folau and his social media posts.

In Japan, the Wallabies exited in the quarter-finals following a humiliating 40-16 loss to England.


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Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said the storm around Folau was a distraction for the team.

"I certainly don't think it's helpful," she told ABC's Radio National.

"I think when you've got a player who chooses to put their views in front of the views of the team and we end up with headlines and people writing things about Rugby Australia as opposed to writing about the rugby, that's never helpful. Of course it's not."

Folau continued to provoke outrage in the weeks that followed. On November 17 he said the catastrophic bushfires that had ravaged Queensland and NSW were "God's punishment" for Australia allowing same-sex marriage and abortion.

Ten days later he upped his demands from Rugby Australia, asking for $14 million over the termination of his contract.

And now, eight months after he hit send on that infamous Instagram post, Folau and Rugby Australia signed a confidential settlement, estimated to be up to $8 million.


This agreement came after mediation ordered by the Federal Circuit Court had gone for a marathon 12 hours on Monday, then wrapped up over the phone on Wednesday.

With his wife Maria by his side, Folau later published a video statement on his website.

"With today's acknowledgment and apology by Rugby Australia, we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family," Folau said on Wednesday.

"We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect and strengthen these rights for all Australians."