Israel Folau
Israel Folau

Israel Folau found guilty of high-level breach

Israel Folau's landmark code of conduct hearing against Rugby Australia wrapped up after three long days and many expected the three-person independent panel to take days before reaching a decision.

It only took a mattter of hours.

After proceedings wrapped up on Tuesday, the panel handed down their decision. Folau has been found guilty of a high level breach of Rugby Australia's code of conduct.

No sanction has yet to be handed down, but the high level breach is the only level that allows termination of contract.

A statement from Rugby Australia stated the three-person panel handed down their judgement following the proceedings.

"The panel has today provided a judgement 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 statment read.

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

"A further update with be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction."

Folau and RA will have 72 hours following any decision to decide on an appeal.

Folau spent more than twice as long holed up at the code of conduct hearing as he's played Super Rugby for the NSW Waratahs in 2019.

His epic fight to save his Australian rugby career went for a staggering 22 hours, with talk the dual international's legal team could have been required to continue arguing his case against Rugby Australia for a fourth day.

But after three days the hearing came to an end.

Folau's lawyers debated over three days with the governing body's legal team after RA boss Raelene Castle issued the Wallabies star a "high level" breach notice last month following his controversial social media posts.

The outcome of the landmark hearing could range from Folau being free to return to training and playing with the NSW Waratahs up to termination, with fines or suspensions also options depending on the verdict.

The Wallabies superstar's landmark hearing resumed at the offices of Herbert Smith Freehills in Sydney's CBD on Tuesday after some of the brightest brains in the land spent the weekend debating the complex case at RA headquarters.

The public calls for the game to end the painful saga has not seen any acceleration of the process as the hearing continued.

The three-person panel convened in a different venue after hearing over 15 hours of arguments at Rugby Australia (RA) headquarters last weekend.

The three-person panel was not expected to reach a decision on Tuesday, but it's hoped the severity of any breach of Folau's four-year, $4 million contract will be determined.

The former NRL and AFL star has already rejected a $1 million pay-out offer, according to reports - however, that number has been denied by RA.

"This is a no-win situation for the game and fans and I'd like to see it resolved as quickly as possible," Davis told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"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.

"Let's see if we can bring some common sense to the table and work out a solution that keeps everyone but happy but with a three-party deal that's not as easy as it sounds."

Among the major rugby figures to appear before the hearing so far are RA chief executive officer Raelene Castle, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and NSW Rugby Union boss Andrew Hore.

Whatever the outcome and whenever it's delivered, it's unlikely to be the end of perhaps the most scrutinised and debated code of conduct hearing in Australian rugby history.

It has almost been a month since Folau's posts on Twitter and Instagram triggered a firestorm of reaction.

The Wallabies superstar back signed a new four-year deal back in February.

Folau's solicitor Ramy Quatamiand and barrister Adam Casselden have argued that Folau's Instagram post claiming hell awaits homosexuals and other sinners unless they repent and turn to Jesus was merely a bible passage and not his direct words.

They also put forward the fact that RA didn't include a specific social media clause when the John Eales Medallist signed a new contract in February.

But after Folau was formally warned last year when he posted similar passages claiming gays were destined for hell, RA's legal unit believes the 30-year-old has breached both the player code of conduct and its social media policies.

News Corp Australia

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