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No social media restrictions on Israel Folau – Tonga Rugby CEO

The one time highest paid Wallaby, Israel Folau now has a chance to resurrect his international career with his selection into the Tongan national side for the Pacific Nations Cup and the World Cup qualifiers.

As he does that, Tonga Rugby Union chief executive officer Peter Harding said Folau’s freedom to post on social media will not be restricted, something which landed him in hot water three years ago.

World Rugby’s changes to eligibility laws allows former internationals who have played for top nations to play for the country of their origin or birth.

In this case, Folau, Augustine Pulu, Malakai Fekitoa, Charles Piatau, Atu Moli, Sekope Kepu and many others will be donning the red of the Ikale Tahi.

On paper, this a formidable team with an outside chance of securing the Webb-Ellis cup.

Tonga’s rugby team will be boosted by the inclusion of former internationals. Picture: Tonga Rugby Union

Folau’s fall from grace with Rugby Australia was in 2019 when he posted what he thought was right according to his religion. He had stated ‘Hell awaits drunks, liars, thieves, homosexuals and others’. With rights activists outraged, Folau’s rugby career came to a halt after which he was terminated by ARU.

After failure to solve this dispute in a tribunal, the matter was taken to the court and a confidential settlement took place in December of 2019.

Tonga Rugby Union believes there will be no need to put a restriction on players, with Harding stating all players were adults.

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“There is a lot of energy around the Pacific teams, Fiji, Samoa and our team Tonga. Through the changes in eligibility we will have Malakai Fekitoa, Charles (Salesi) Piatau and we have got Augustine Pulu and if course we have got Isaleli – Israel Folau coming across,” he said.

“When you get to know these guys, they are all proud Tongans.

 

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A post shared by Israel Folau (@izzyfolau)

“Israel is a 33 year old man and we don’t stand there and tell any of our men what to do. We get them in a very positive environment.

“Our environment is an island environment, you would understand that. That is a very spiritual environment, there is always a pastor with us.

“There is no need to sanction people or limit people. The environment is so positive that nothing really negative comes out of it.

“We are quite happy with Izzy, he is a grown man and he can make his own decisions.”

The comments from Harding contradict those from Tonga’s head coach Toutai Kefu who told media that he would be putting up guidelines for players regarding social media, but this had not been discussed with the players yet.

The one time highest paid Wallaby, Israel Folau now has a chance to resurrect his international career with his selection into the Tongan national side for the Pacific Nations Cup and the World Cup qualifiers. Picture: Israel Folau Facebook

Folau’s social media activity has reduced in comparison to what it used to be after his exit from Australian rugby, even though he has maintained almost half a million followers across different platforms.

Tonga is yet to qualify for the World Cup but with a dream line up, they sure look to be penciled in.

The players who are all based overseas will get together in Fiji, a week before the Pacific Nations Cup. The Ikale Tahi then head to their qualifying games. A majority of the players have been with the Moana Pasifika.

 

2 Comments
  1. Michael Talanoa 4 weeks ago
    Reply

    100% support the Tonga Rugby Union CEO.

    • Daniel Whitehead 4 weeks ago
      Reply

      Such an exciting prospect to see these guys playing together. Watch out, world!

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