Catalans Dragons player Israel Folau sparked fresh controversy at the weekend after deciding not to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The 31-year-old former Wallaby was the only player from the Dragons and St Helens not to make the gesture in support of the movement ahead of the Super League clash at Headingley.
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 for making homophobic comments on social media and Dragons head coach Steve McNamara has defended Folau’s latest decision.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The incident has split opinion among rugby fans around the world.
It is, of course, Folau’s absolute right not to “take a knee” with the other 25 players.
It still takes my breath away regardless.
The downside of expressing solidarity with a movement that believes we are all equal, & deserve equal treatment would be . . ? https://t.co/TD60J7G1HL
— Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) August 2, 2020
Wait, people are just now realising that israel folau is a complete ass? pic.twitter.com/iTOXtQ2IPC
— Rachel (@RachTsv) August 3, 2020
@RitaPanahi I do respect Israel Folau for not kneeing during the anthem.
— Victor Yong #StaySafe 🇦🇺 (@BigV2011WCE) August 3, 2020
Lefties: We must celebrate diversity in society.
Lefties: How bad is Israel Folau for not being into conformity.
— Real Mark Latham (@RealMarkLatham) August 3, 2020
Well done Israel Folau. BLM is a Marxist and racist organisation. Shame on you Super League for getting sucked into this nonsense. All lives matter.
— Lord Drayton (@drayton_lord) August 3, 2020
So Israel Folau refused to take a knee in support of #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/D5T6txhWwB
— 格丹尼 (@daniel_grinker) August 3, 2020
Another Lion among Sheep as #RugbyLeague star #IsraelFolau decided not to bend the knee to a Marxist, far left Fascist organisation in #BlackLivesMatter ahead of his return to action in the Super League with the Catalan Dragons.ADVERTISEMENT
Bravo Israel.#StandUp pic.twitter.com/7f2DhWqfK7
— Nikos* 🇨🇾🇬🇷🇬🇧Ⓥ (@RefugeeNik) August 3, 2020
Maybe ask Israel Folau why he didn’t take a knee and not assume. I could guess why. NBA coach Gregg Popovich didn’t kneel recently during the anthem though has been a supporter of African American rights for years#SuperLeague #RugbyLeague
— James Cheeseman (@shaggy84329) August 3, 2020
His a drop kick #israelfolau stop putting his face on TV as his comments and actions are a disgrace
— JJW (@dailyju5tin) August 3, 2020