Kiwi boss of Rugby Australia speaks about standing up for rugby’s values during battle with Israel Folau

Australian Rugby boss Raelene Castle says sacking Israel Folau has been the most significant challenge in her time in the top job of the game across the Tasman. 

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Raelene Castle spoke to 1 NEWS about the biggest challenge of her Rugby Australian role – dealing with Folau. Source: 1 NEWS

After an initial controversy around Folau's homophobic views in 2018, the now ex-Wallabies' fullback again took to social media in May this year, telling homosexuals that hell awaits them unless they repent.

Having taken charge of Australian Rugby at the end of the 2017 season, the majority of Castle's tenure has been dealing with Folau, resulting in the termination of his Rugby Australia contract earlier this year.

Speaking to 1 NEWS, the New Zealander explained why it was so vital that she act on Folau, once he again expressed views that were at odds to those of Rugby Australia.

"It was certainly a very challenging period," Castle began.

"At the end of the day, the rugby community survives on it's values. It's what fundamentally underpins us as a sport. We felt we had an obligation to stand up for those values.

"Certainly as I've been around the country, on the field and talked to the rugby community - while recognising the challenge it's creating - certainly appreciate the stance that we've taken, and support the stance we've taken."

Castle also hopes that Folau's example will serve to others, highlighting the dangers that social media can cause to those within sport and the effect their views can have.

"You couldn't say you go through a process that's this enormous and has this much media attention and public attention and not say that there's things you can learn from it and how to do things differently.

"I certainly think this is the first real test case around professional athletes and their use of social media in a way that might not align with their employers.

"Making sure that those expectations are set out really clearly for our players around social media, there's always more that you can do around training in that situation."

Folau is currently fighting his sacking in court, demanding up to $10 million in damages from his former employer.