Pro rugby player calls in to slam Israel Folau's homophobic comments

28 January 2020, 17:46

This pro rugby player, who will be playing against disgraced Israel Folau, called in to slam his homophobic comments and said Folau cannot tell "a group of people in the world that they're going to burn in hell for eternity."

Disgraced Australian rugby union national Israel Folau has made a switch to rugby league and is joining the Catalans Dragons.

The French league team have offered him a one-year contract to give him another "chance to shine" after he was released from Australia Rugby over homophobic comments on social media, including one that read "hell awaits" gay people.

The caller Jon Wilkin, who plays for Toronto Wolfpack, said he's had a lot of discussions with his team mates and colleagues about rugby league giving Folau this chance.

He said, "Every professional sports person in the world has a responsibility to control his output. And to use that platform to shame people and to make people with a different way of life feel as though they're vulnerable or living their life inappropriately, I just believe is wrong."

Shelagh asked if a gay rugby player had taken to social media and said Folau should lose his job over these comments, would that be considered exclusive and intolerant, as they are his religious views?

Former Australian international full-back Israel Folau
Former Australian international full-back Israel Folau. Picture: PA

"I think there's a clear distinction here. One is telling somebody they're going to get a P45 for their beliefs, it's wholly different to telling a group of people in the world that they're going to burn in hell for eternity.

"We need to be more tolerant of each other."

"If you want people to come on board with you," Jon Wilkin said, "you firstly have got to build rapport with them, then you have to empathise with them, then only then after that trust is built will they listen to you.

"For Israel to put this out there without trying to establish the rapport and empathy with the people he's communicating to, it's not only a failure by him, it's a failure of the modern world," he said, commenting how Folau just projected his view without consideration for others.

Jon Wilkin said that when he plays against him he won't say anything as he "hasn't walked a mile in Israel's shoes", but said "he drew the line at burning in hell for eternity."