After smashing into each other for 80 minutes, players from the Rebels and Reds united in a poignant prayer circle following another divisive week in the Israel Folau social media saga.
The Rebels won 30-24 at Melbourne’s AAMI Park before players formed a tight huddle and shared a moment together.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Folau had contacted Pacific Island players at all of Australia’s Super Rugby franchises, “hoping they will stand in solidarity with him for expressing his Christian beliefs.”
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It was unclear whether the players in Melbourne were making a stand for Folau.
“We’ve seen this before, it happens a lot and probably in the last couple of years it’s happened more and more,” former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles said on Fox Sports’ The Kick On show in regards to pre and post-match prayer circles.
“Whether or not this is specifically for Israel Folau, we won’t know but we’ve seen that before.”
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Folau’s career is in limbo as the Wallabies star awaits sanctioning after an independent panel found he had committed a “high level” breach of his four year, $4 million contract.
Folau has already been dumped as a brand ambassador by ASICS after posting a banner on Instagram last month that read: “Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators — Hell awaits you.”
Before Friday’s match, foxsports.com.au reported that fears of a player revolt and a public display of resistance against Rugby Australia had cooled.
But deep hurt and anger lingered among large sections of Australia’s Super Rugby players due to the handling of Folau’s social media controversy by the governing body.
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