Israel Folau appeal dismissed

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs and Wallabies star Israel Folau has lost his appeal against a one-match suspension and will miss Friday night's match against the Rebels.

Folau was suspended for one match by a World Rugby judiciary committee in a hearing on Wednesday, and immediately appealed, but that was dismissed by a separate panel late on Thursday night.

The fullback was yellow-carded during Australia's third Test against Ireland and was then issued a citing commissioner's warning over contact with Ireland skipper Peter O'Mahony in the air in the ninth minute.

Folau was cited for making contact with O'Mahony's chest in that ninth-minute contest, with O'Mahony falling awkwardly, before he was stretchered off in the yellow-card collision in the 31st minute.

Israel Folau has had a mixed June Series. Photo: WalmsleyIn both incidents, O'Mahony was being lifted by teammate CJ Stander, with Stander letting go of O'Mahony after lifting him, putting a spotlight on that tactic in the aftermath.

With his suspension upheld, Folau will miss the Waratahs' pivotal Super Rugby derby against the Rebels on Friday night, joining captain Michael Hooper (hamstring) on the sidelines.

World Rugby released the full judgement from the initial hearing ahead of the appeal, with Folau, national skills coach Mick Byrne and lawyer Steven Cottrell the key players in his defence.

In that judgement, it was deemed that Folau's fingers closed in a 'claw-like' fashion on O'Mahony's chest, with the Ireland captain going beyond the horizontal as he is brought to ground.

Australian teammates, coaches and opponents of Folau have come out in his defence during the week, in what has become a divisive debate.

Waratahs forward Ned Hanigan said earlier on Thursday that the Folau decision could set a precedent for rugby moving forward.

"I think the issue at hand is he's genuinely going for the ball and it's the actions that he does when he's coming back to the ground, but the referees and adjudicators...they'll finalise it and I honestly reckon it'll be a bit of a milestone or precedent to what will come in the future, with these types of issues."

Folau will be replaced by Bryce Hegarty in the Waratahs' starting lineup, while Irae Simone is likely to come into the 23 for the Aussie derby.

This is Folau's first citing and first suspension since he joined the Waratahs from the AFL's GWS Giants in 2013.

While the appeal judgement is not yet available, you can read the full judgement from Wednesday's first hearing here.