News World Dragons facing legal threat over Israel Folau

Dragons facing legal threat over Israel Folau

Catalans Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch is expected to come under fire at a meeting of Super League clubs on Wednesday following the signing of Israel Folau. Photo: Getty
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French rugby league club Catalans Dragons could face legal action after its signing of controversial Australian star Israel Folau.

Hull Kingston Rovers – a Dragons Super League competitor – put the Perpignan club ‘on notice’ on Tuesday.

“I reserve my position to take proceedings v Catalans Dragons,” the BBC quoted Rovers owner and chairman Neil Hudgell as saying.

In an email, Mr Hudgell suggested action could be taken if a title sponsor withdrew, external investment was not secured or “quantifiable reputational damage is caused to the brand of Super League and its members”.

Super League clubs are furious with Folau’s recruitment, believing it not only compromises the league and its values, but also runs the risk of sponsors withdrawing.

The BBC quoted one senior club source as saying “nearly all” the Super League clubs backed Mr Hudgell’s position.

Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch is expected to come under fire at a meeting of Super League clubs on Wednesday. Wakefield chief executive Michael Carter said the issue would be high on the agenda.

“I think Neil was just putting a marker down. We are reserving our rights should there be any financial backlash that we push Catalans on notice.”

Mr Carter said his club was paying for extra stewarding at Sunday’s match, where Folau might make his Super League debut against the Trinity.

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for his homophobic comments on social media.

Mr Guasch has insisted the Dragons do not agree with Folau’s views and said they signed an agreement with the RFL that any transgression would trigger an immediate termination of Folau’s contract and a substantial fine for the club.

Dragons coach Steve McNamara said: “We knew it would be controversial.

“As an individual, I stand by the club statement that Bernard issued on the signing of Israel.

“We investigated a fair few players, Israel’s name was on that list and, having spent a lot of time speaking to him and understanding him a lot more and getting reassurances.

“We made a decision as a club that we would support Israel and give him another opportunity in our game.”

Folau has begun training with his new teammates in the south of France.

The Catalans cancelled plans for a media conference unveiling their new signing following a barrage of unwelcome publicity. Instead, the team conducted its own interview, in which Folau expressed his gratitude for being given a way back into rugby.

“I’m excited to be back playing the game I grew up playing,” he said. “It’s been 10 years since I last played league and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of a great organisation and a great team in Catalans.

“I missed that team camaraderie and team environment.

“Being able to train with the team and work alongside the coaches, that’s something I’ve missed in the last seven months but it’s fantastic to be back in a team environment and getting into that routine of training hard again, enjoying the game and putting my best foot forward.”

-with AAP