Outgoing Rugby Australia chief targeted with ‘vicious’ online bullying after sacking homophobic Israel Folau

Israel Folau Yorkshire farmer

The outgoing Rugby Australia chief was reportedly targeted with “vicious bullying” after she sacked homophobic rugby star Israel Folau.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle resigned on Wednesday, April 23, as the board had lost confidence in her ability to “take the game forward”, according to the BBC.

She spent a difficult almost two and a half years in the job, highlighted by her firing of homophobic rugby star Israel Folau in 2019 after he claimed that “hell awaits” gay people.

Rugby Australia chairman Paul McLean described on Friday the “bullying” Castle was subjected to, and said that a “lesser person” would have “thrown the towel in ages ago”.

He said: “I think in normal circumstances, without the things that have happened in the last two years and some of the unwarranted criticism and in fact bullying, I think it may have been a different scenario… I’m not a social media person, but I’m aware of some of the things said over a period of time in a quite vicious and vitriolic way.

“The silent forces, the dark forces, those are the things that upset me most.

“The people that didn’t know the facts, the faceless people out there, that was the damaging thing from her perspective and she shared some of that with me, which I found quite abhorrent.”

The search for Castle’s replacement will begin on Monday.

Israel Folau has refused to back down on his anti-LGBT+ beliefs.

Israel Folau received an undisclosed settlement and an apology from Rugby Australia in December after taking legal action against his ex-employer over his sacking, claiming he had been discriminated against on the basis of religion.

But far from backing away from his anti-LGBT+ beliefs, Folau has repeatedly reasserted them since – blaming the devil for transgender children and claiming that bushfires devastating Australia are “God’s judgment” for same-sex marriage.

In January he signed a new deal to play for France-based Catalans Dragons.