How Israel Folau’s lapse in judgment has cost Australia

For many people both young and old and not even necessarily rugby fans, understanding why Israel Folau said what he did is a very difficult thing to do. Here is a man at the top of his game and probably the finest centre in the world prepared to throw his career away over a few thoughts he could have kept to himself. Sadly, Folau’s outspoken nature has cost him the chance to go down as Australia’s’ greatest ever rugby union player.

The 30-year-old will be counting the financial costs after Rugby Australia tore up his $5m contract. Needless to say, there has been a fair bit of collateral damage suffered by many parties but none more so than the Wallabies and Waratahs, the latter being Folau’s domestic franchise before they also decided to cut ties with him.

The international spotlight was turned onto the Waratahs after Folau’s Instagram post and that put the club in an unfair position as they looked to win the Super Rugby title. It has obviously been something that has been playing on the mind of Tahs captain and former Wallabies teammate Nick Phillips, who waited until his side’s chances of making the finals seemed all but over over, before calling Folau out.

Speaking after the Waratahs went down to the Brumbies 24-35 in New South Wales, Phillips said Folau’s comments had cost the Tahs the chance to make any finals this season. It’s very hard to argue with that and it just reinforces what a tremendous shame this whole episode has been. Whilst it hasn’t been openly said yet, if you were to read between the lines of Phillips’ comments, it does seem like he is preempting what will be said about Folau should the Wallabies fail in Japan at the World Cup at the end of the year. It has been 20 years since Australia won a World Cup and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the lack of success at rugby’s greatest showpiece is making fans exceptionally restless down under. Before Folau did what he did, he was seen as Australia’s’ greatest chance of winning the event in Japan. Now, however, that it looks almost certain that Folau will play no part, the Wallabies’ odds in rugby union betting have dropped to 14/1. It’s an extraordinary waste and it’s very hard to imagine Rugby Australia will offer Folau an olive branch between now and September, even if he were to retract his ill-advised comments.


Normally, there would be an outpouring of joy from opposition fans upon the news that their fierce rivals will be without their best player but on this occasion, there is very little celebrating in England, New Zealand and South Africa. On the contrary, fans of rugby union will be deprived of watching Folau at his prime in what is expected to be a phenomenal World Cup in Japan. Should the Wallabies crash out early doors and fail to come home with the Webb Ellis Cup, Folau can expect a lot more discontent aimed at him.