Rugby Player Israel Folau Refuses To Take A Knee In Support Of Black Lives Matter

by : Emily Brown on : 03 Aug 2020 08:15
Rugby Player Refuses To Take A Knee In Support Of Black Lives MatterRugby Player Refuses To Take A Knee In Support Of Black Lives MatterPA Images

Catalans Dragons rugby player Israel Folau has sparked controversy after refusing to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The Catalans Dragons took on St Helens at Headingley Stadium on Sunday, August 2, marking the resumption of Super League following the coronavirus outbreak.

The teams decided to honour the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement by taking a moment to kneel before kick-off, but while the 25 other players and the referee knelt, Folau chose to stand.


Folau’s decision was met with backlash on social media, with some questioning why he refused to take part in the simple gesture, while others speculated it may be something to do with his religion.

One Twitter user wrote:

Israel Folau is well within his rights to refuse to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter.

And in return I am allowed to question the moral character of a man who refuses to make the merest gesture in support of the BAME community in the face of systemic racism.


Following the move, Catalans coach Steve McNamara defended the player and argued he was entitled to make a personal choice on the matter.


McNamara commented:

As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and 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.

Folau has been a source of controversy in the past for making homophobic comments that included him claiming ‘hell awaits’ gay people.


The player was sacked from his four-year £2 million Rugby Australia contract as a result of his actions in May 2019, and he consequently missed out on Australia’s World Cup campaign in Japan.

Commenting on the decision, per The Independent, Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle said:

While Rugby Australia accepts the panel’s decision directing termination of Israel Folau’s playing contract for his high-level breach of the Code of Conduct, we want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game.


Folau returned to ruby league and agreed to play for Catalans until at least the end of 2021, after they elected to offer him a contract.

Many social media users argued the player’s latest controversial action ‘confirmed’ he is a bad person. Folau does not appear to have publicly commented on the matter.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Black Lives Matter, Catalans Dragons, Israel Folau, Now, Rugby League


The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Israel Folau refuses to take a knee as the only player left standing before St Helens vs Catalans Dragons