Wallabies fullback Israel Folau created a social media storm on Wednesday, tweeting his personal views on gay marriage.
Folau tweeted: I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.
The 28-year-old is a devout Christian, and his post received criticism from those who support same sex marriage, with a postal vote to decide the issue set to be carried out across Australia in the coming weeks, after it was posted.
I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.✌❤🙏— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) September 13, 2017
Many users, though, defended his right to express an opinion, regardless of whether they agreed with it or not.
Please don't smash the guy for expressing an opinion. Vote yes and show him the world is better when all people can celebrate their love. https://t.co/rxM19YXK9H— Richard Hinds (@rdhinds) September 13, 2017
His post comes a day after Wallabies captain Michael Hooper spoke to Fairfax Media of his, and the team's, support of marriage equality, with the Wallabies also making a public stand on their respective social media channels.
Folau's former Wallabies teammate David Pocock, who is currently in Japan as part of an Australian rugby sabbatical, tweeted his support for marriage equality on Wednesday afternoon.
Pocock and partner Emma are well-known for their stance on marriage, not officially tying the knot until same-sex marriage is legalised.
The ARU is also believed to be preparing to pledge its support ahead of the Purchas Cup in Melbourne this weekend, following the lead of Cricket Australia, the AFL and the NRL in that commitment.
Rugby has long been an inclusive sport, with the Bingham Cup an international competition for gay rugby teams, and Sydney was the home of the first gay rugby team, the Sydney Convicts, with Brisbane and Melbourne also fielding gay teams in their respective suburban leagues.