Gareth Thomas vows never to watch Israel Folau play for Super League squad Catalan Dragons

The decision of French club Catalan Dragons to sign the disgraced sportsman has been met with widespread criticism.


Words: Steve Brown

Disgraced Australian rugby player Israel Folau is set to make a return to the sport less than a year after he was fired by Rugby Australia for sharing a post on social media saying "hell awaits" gay people.

It was reported yesterday (January 28), that sports star - who was one of the highest paid in New Zealand - has been signed by French Super League squad Catalan Dragons eight months after his contracted with Rugby Australia was terminated over repeated homophobic online posts.

The Catalan Dragons announed that they had signed Folau on a one-year contract with "immediate effect" and wanted to "give Israel a new opportunity to shine on the pitch".

Folau told the club's website: "I'm a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be making further public comment about them.

"I look forward to my return to the great game of Rugby League with the Catalans Dragons."

Now, Welsh rugby star, Gareth Thomas - who came out as gay in 2009 and revealed he is living with HIV last year - has vowed never to watch the disgraced rugby player.

Writing on Twitter, Thomas said: "So Folau has joined the @SuperLeague.

"Really upset by this as the game, players, and fans were so good to me.

"All I hope is that as much as Folau wanted his right to speak, then players and fans alike are aloud their right to respond . I will never watch him🌈🏉❤️"

Out rugby star, Keegan Hirst also criticised the signing and wrote on Twitter: "I’m shocked and disappointed at the signing of @IzzyFolau.

"Our great game is tasked with fighting against homophobia and standing up for the values it puts such high stock in. It shows none of the bravery, cameraderie or integrity @rfl expects from its players, staff and fans."

He continued: "Just FYI, this has nothing to do with beliefs. It has everything to do with homophobia.

"There are millions of people practicing their religion who are not homophobic.

"Prejudice is prejudice and using religion, political beliefs or anything else to justify it is not ok."