Folau found guilty of breach of conduct over anti-gay tweet

FILE - In this June 25, 2016, file photo, Australian rugby union player Israel Folau, wearing tape on his wrist adorned with a cross, runs toward the try line to score against England during their rugby union test match in Sydney. The 30-year-old Folau will appear before a code of conduct hearing at Rugby Australia's headquarters in Sydney to determine the playing future of the star Wallabies fullback on Saturday, May 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

A disciplinary hearing has ruled that Wallabies fullback Israel Folau committed a "high-level breach" of Rugby Australia's code of conduct regulations when he used social media to criticize gays

SYDNEY — A disciplinary hearing ruled Tuesday that Wallabies fullback Israel Folau committed a "high-level breach" of Rugby Australia's code of conduct when he used social media to criticize gays.

"The panel has today provided a judgment that Israel Folau committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players' Code of Conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019," the Rugby Australia statement said.

"The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction."

The 30-year-old Folau appeared before the hearing to contest Rugby Australia's decision to terminate his contract after he posted in mid-April on social media that gay people, along with other "sinners," will face damnation unless they repent.

The hearing was originally scheduled for one day last Saturday, but was extended to Sunday and it went into a third day on Tuesday.

It ended as the chairman of the New South Wales Waratahs, Folau's Super Rugby franchise, called for "common sense" and a settlement.

"This is a no-win situation for the game and fans and I'd like to see it resolved as quickly as possible," Roger Davis told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. "I think a settlement is a common-sense approach ... it would be smart. If this goes for a long time there are definitely no winners."

No time frame has been given for an announcement on the sanction.

There have also been reports in Australian media that Folau was offered 1 million Australian dollars ($704,000), the reported amount of his annual salary, as a settlement on the first day, but that he turned down the offer.

Folau has played 73 test matches for Australia. In his most recent match for the Waratahs, Folau scored his 60th try, the most of any player in Super Rugby, breaking the record of former New Zealand winger Doug Howlett.

In February, Folau signed a contract extension to remain with the Waratahs and Australian rugby until the end of 2022. Folau, a devout Christian, has argued that his contentious social media post contained a passage from the bible.

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