Israel Folau: Former Australia international named in World XV to face Barbarians at Twickenham

Former Australia international Israel Folau had his Wallabies contract terminated in 2019 for making homophobic posts on social media; the RFU is set to fly the rainbow flag over Twickenham on Sunday in support of LGBTQ+ communities after Folau was named in the initial World XV squad

Last Updated: 24/05/23 11:04am

Israel Folau will start for the World XV against the Barbarians on Sunday

Israel Folau has been named in the starting line-up for the World XV team to take on the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.
The 34-year-old former Australia international made his return to international rugby union last year playing for Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup, having had his Wallabies contract terminated in 2019 for homophobic posts on social media.
His selection in the initial World XV squad by head coach Steve Hansen prompted RFU plans to fly the rainbow Pride flag over Twickenham on Sunday in support of LGBTQ+ communities, and the former New Zealand boss stated that decision was a “positive consequence of Folau being called up to the team”.

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“They wouldn’t be flying the flag if he wasn’t,” Hansen told BBC Sport. “The flag is being brought to the attention of people, and the awareness of why it is there is to support the people that are judged and treated poorly because of who they are.
“They deserve to be loved and cared for as much as anybody else. If we all did that it’d be a happy place, wouldn’t it?
“The big lesson there is just treat everyone with kindness and love.”
Folau, who now plays club rugby in Japan for Urayasu D-Rocks, will start on the wing for the World XV and Hansen understood he would face a backlash for picking the dual-code international who won 73 caps for Australia and a further eight for the country’s rugby league team.