Rugby League: Protester asked to remove a rainbow flag at Israel Folau's debut match

Israel Folau wasted no time making his mark in the English Super League, scoring after six minutes in the Catalans Dragons' 36-18 win against the Castleford Tigers on Sunday (NZ time). 

The Dragons were criticised for signing the former rugby union international who was sacked by Rugby Australia over anti-LGBT+ comments on social media last year. 

While Folau's debut was a big talking point, there has been some controversy off the field after a woman protesting at Stade Gilbert Brutus was allegedly told to remove her rainbow flag.

Alison Grey revealed she was confronted by stadium officials twice and was first told the flag contravened health and safety and the second time that it was against club policy.

Her brother Chris Grey first revealed on Twitter, "This is my sister at the Dragons vs Castleford game. She has been asked to remove her rainbow flag at homophobic Israel Folau's debut.

"Absolutely disgusting.

"She's been asked to remove the flag twice now. Proud of her. She's not one to back down." 

Alison then followed it up with a Twitter post of her own, "Just been told I am not allowed this flag because the club does not allow it. How disgusting." 

Grey was among the 8000 fans at the stadium for the match. 

A Catalans spokesman later said they are gathering more information on what happened, while the Super League are investigating the incident. 

"Everyone should have the right to respectfully express their views," said the Super League.

"We are investigating and we will receive a full report by the end of this weekend and have more details on Monday."

Folau put his past controversies behind him though and was impressive in his first league game in 10 years. 

When he scored his try from a cross-field bomb from James Maloney in the corner,  the home crowd chanted, "Izzy! Izzy!" 

Former NZ Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins scored a hat-trick in the match to help the Dragons to their first win of the season after they were beaten in the opening round by the Huddersfield Giants and had their game at Wakefield called off last weekend.

Israel Folau with a Dragons fan.
Israel Folau with a Dragons fan. Photo credit: Getty

Folau's signing was met with condemnation from other clubs and sparked a rule change to allow the competition to prevent "controversial signings" in the future.

After the game, the 30-year-old mingled with fans, stopping to take selfies and speaking to supporters. 

Photos also emerged on Twitter of the Dragons selling special jerseys to raise money for the Australian bushfires.