More than 50 rugby players took a knee for Black Lives Matter at Super League’s big return. The only one who refused was Israel Folau

Israel Folau

Anti-LGBT+ rugby star Israel Folau was the only player to refuse to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter at a Catalans Dragons Super League match against St Helens.

The ‘take a knee’ gesture in support of Black Lives Matter has been seen at most recent Premier League football matches, and rugby players took part at the first fixture since the Super League was halted because of coronavirus.

The match saw 51 players kneel before kick-off at Headingley with Folau, 31, being the only one to refuse.

After the team suffered a 34-6 defeat, Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara spoke about Folau’s refusal to kneel.

According to the BBC, the former England coach said: “As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth. As a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity.

“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee.

“That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”

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

Former Wallabies player Israel Folau was plunged into controversy last year when Rugby Australia sacked him for writing on social media that “hell awaits” gay people.

But Folau received an undisclosed settlement and an apology from Rugby Australia in December 2019 after taking legal action against his ex-employer over his sacking, claiming he had been discriminated against on the basis of religion.

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

In January he signed a a one-year contract to play for France-based Catalans Dragons, and made three appearances before games were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.