Rugby Australia won't punish Folau over 'gay' comments

Rugby Australia will not sanction star player Israel Folau for his controversial 'gay' comments on social media, but may yet face a backlash from sponsors.

Folau, who is married to New Zealand netball star Maria Folau (nee Tutaia), told a poster on Instagram that God's plan for homosexuals was "HELL… unless they repent their sins".

After he explained his stance to Rugby Australia, chief executive Raelene Castle said she was proud of his commitment to his Christian beliefs.

Folau publicly explained his views in a first-person Players' Voice column on Monday night. Castle's initial response was that she was satisfied with the "respectful" way he clarified his remarks.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rugby Australia confirmed it would not sanction him.

"In his article, Israel clearly articulated his religious beliefs and why his faith is important to him, and has provided context behind his social media comment," said Castle.

"In his own words, Israel said that he did not intend to upset people intentionally or bring hurt to the game. We accept Israel's position.

"Rugby Australia will use this experience as an opportunity to remind all employees of their obligation to use social media in a respectful way."

But the Sydney Morning Herald claims that sponsors were told Folau would be punished for his outburst and now that doesn't seem to be happening, some of those may vote with their feet.

"On Tuesday morning, some sponsors told Fairfax Media they believed Folau was about to be breached at any moment," reports the Sydney Morning Herald. "Instead, the opposite has happened."

The issue looms as an early test for Castle, a former Netball NZ and Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league CEO, who was only appointed to the Rugby Australia top job in December 2017.