Israel Folau won't appeal sacking over 'hell awaits' Instagram post

Israel Folau is a committed Christian and one of world rugby's superstars.Reuters

Australian rugby star Israel Folau has decided against appealing the termination of his contract over an Instagram post that told gay people among others that "hell awaits" if they did not repent.

Explaining the decision to waive an appeal, Folau said he did not have confidence in Rugby Australia (RA) to treat him fairly. 

The former Wallabies fullback, however, revealed that he had not ruled out further action against RA over the termination of his contract. 

Folau was sacked on Friday after a three-person panel found that he had committed a "high level breach" of the RA players' code of conduct when he posted an image to Instagram saying that hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others. 

In a statement, Folau said: "My decision not to commence Rugby Australia's appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel's findings.

"I simply do not have confidence in Rugby Australia's ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process."

Folau added that "in the face of growing discontent" with the RA's handling of his code of conduct hearing, he was considering his options.

"The messages of support from fans, players, former rugby administrators and the public have been humbling," he said.

"I believe I still have a lot of rugby left in me and the potential impact of Rugby Australia's decision on my reputation and my career is substantial.

"Ultimately, I need to do what is best for my family, my teammates and the fans, so I am considering all potential avenues open to me."

In addition to losing his contract, the 30-year-old player also lost a sponsorship deal with athletics brand Asics.

Money did not appear to be a driving concern for Folau, though, as he walked away from the offer of a lucrative settlement fee from RA.

In a sermon he preached in Sydney ahead of the panel's verdict, he said: "The way Satan works is he offers you stuff that could look good to the eye and makes you feel comfortable. If you follow that path all the worries and troubles will go away.

"But it is always the will of God that comes first."

The debate over his post reached England's shores after Saracens player Billy Vunipola defended Folau's comments. 

He received a formal warning from the Rugby Football Union. 

Pete Nicholas, a trustee of Christians in Sport in the UK, said the actions against Folau and Vunipola reflected a 'new colonialism' of beliefs in the sporting world. 

"Folau and Vunipola's posts have received many likes from those from South Pacific Island heritage who are feeling the New Colonial steamroller coming their way," he said.

"But the momentum of the Western consensus is now so strong that few have noticed this worrying dynamic and its ugly historical precedents. Few have noticed the irony of the intolerance of the culture of 'tolerance'."