Folau banned for one match, set to appeal

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies and Waratahs star Israel Folau has been handed a one-match ban over contact in the air against Ireland, but that's just the start of the story.

Folau and Rugby Australia are set to appeal the result, with that set to be heard either on Thursday or on Friday morning.

If he wins the appeal, he could yet be available for the Waratahs' clash against the Rebels on Friday night in Melbourne.

The fullback was yellow-carded and then given a citing commissioner’s warning over two aerial contests in the third Wallabies Test, that saw Ireland skipper Peter O’Mahony land awkwardly.

In both situations, and a third that was also highlighted, O’Mahony was being lifted by one teammate, putting him a precarious position.

Gibson said the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing could have far-reaching implications for rugby.

“I believe if he does get some time, there's some real implications around the law-making process going forward,” he said.

“It really makes us look at the kick contest area and exactly how we can, if it goes this way, how we can provide a law that covers or provides for what is happening in terms of the collisions and guys landing on their heads.”

Whatever the outcome, Gibson said he hoped Folau’s prowess in the air wasn’t legislated out of the game.

“I hope it doesn't because that's the element of rugby that's important, that there is a kick and there is a fair contest for the ball,” he said.

“I don't think in AFL they've got any particular rules governing that (kind of) contest and so that's why for me it's really interesting, in terms of that law and what happens and the implications of what happens if he does get a sanction.”

Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley said it was frustrating that Folau was under scrutiny for one of his, and the team’s, greatest strengths.

“For some reason, it always happens around Israel,” he said.

“It's something they plan against or try and negate, his ability and his threat in the air and so for him to be put under scrutiny for something he's good at, is pretty disappointing.”

Though Folau has been a target in the air since coming across from AFL in 2013, the kicking contests haven't been under the spotlight until this season, with a major crackdown on incidents that leave players at risk of neck or head injuries.

“I think probably the inconsistency of it is the frustrating thing,” Foley said.

“Knowing that he is a weapon for us and something we want to use and utilise, then we want consistency in terms of how it's going to be reffed or the outcome, so then we can plan accordingly.

“We're not trying to do anything illegal, we're just trying to use a strength of ours against what we think is a weakness of oppositions.”

The Waratahs take on the Rebels on Friday night at AAMI Park,  kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO.