Super League votes for powers ‘to stop controversial signings’ after Folau fallout

Super League votes for powers ‘to stop controversial signings’ after Folau fallout

Hudgell reportedly said circumstances such as the loss of the competition's title sponsor or "quantifiable reputational damage" to the Super League brand could trigger such action.

Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch missed the meeting, despite being requested to attend by the other clubs.

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone and St Helens chairman Eamon McManus are among those who have spoken out against the signing.

After initially planning to unveil Folau at a media press conference, the Dragons chose to cancel the event following the public backlash to the signing.

Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers has warned the Catalans Dragons could face legal action following the signing of controversial Australian star Israel Folau.

Folau, a devout Christian, was sacked by Rugby Australia last May for making several homophobic social media posts.

"With the season under way, we now feel it is important for Super League to separate what is an off-field matter from what is happening on the field", the Super League Board said in a statement after a meeting on Wednesday.

Israel Folau pauses during a training session with his new club Catalan Dragons in Perpignan France. Image AAP
Israel Folau pauses during a training session with his new club Catalan Dragons in Perpignan France. Image AAP

The BBC has obtained an email sent last week by Hull KR chairman, Neil Hudgell, to Folau's French team the Catalans Dragons.

However, Folau wasn't asked about the controversy surrounding his return to the sport and talked instead about his "excitement" about the opportunity to play rugby league again.

In an interview shown on Sky Sports News, Folau said: "I'm excited to be back playing the game that I grew up playing". Being able to train with the team and work with the coaches, that's something I've missed over the past seven months, but it's fantastic to be back in a team environment and get back into the routine of hard training, enjoy the game and my best foot forward. "It's been 10 years since I last played rugby, and I'm grateful to be part of a great organization and team at the Catalans Dragons".

"The culture's unbelievable and we're looking forward to, as the year goes on, getting to learn to speak the language and also embrace the people here".

"But I think the real issue for the sporting codes is getting a clearer balance between respecting the clear rights of LGBT persons, and individuals such as Folau's right to continue to play and their religious beliefs".

Folau sought compensation and a confidential agreement was reached in December, with both parties issuing corresponding apologies after an end to their legal dispute.

The RFL said: "We don't believe that, under our current regulatory framework, [Folau's comments] can prevent his participation in the sport".

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