Flat White

Rugby Australia’s humiliation is complete

23 September 2020

3:35 PM

23 September 2020

3:35 PM

Rugby Australia sacked their star player and trashed their brand to keep a sponsor happy. Now they have no star player, no brand and — as of today — no major sponsor.

Go woke, go broke.

Qantas announced today it would end its partnership with Rugby Australia, a year after it demanded the code ditch its best player for his views on homosexuality.

What fools the ARU who bent over to keep the airline’s pink sponsorship dollar, alienating fans who wanted to watch rugby rather than receive a lecture on LGBTQI diversity.

Qantas had pressured the ARU to deal with Israel Folau after he posted on social media that homosexuals would go to hell unless they sought forgiveness from Jesus.

Suddenly, a footballer’s opinion about the afterlife created more outrage than the fact that Australia hadn’t won a Rugby World Cup in 20 years.

The then CEO of Rugby Australia, Raelene Castle, said that Folau’s religious belief about eternal judgment had been “the singularly most difficult thing” she had ever had to deal with.

Never mind that Rugby, unlike the AFL, had no free-to-air television deal.

Forget that NZ Rugby had asked the ARU to reduce the number of Australian Super Rugby teams because they were worried about the poor standard of our players.

The greatest challenge to rugby union in this country was, apparently, a fullback’s musings on eternal damnation.

Sponsors complained that their commitment to diversity and tolerance meant they could not tolerate Folau’s divergent view. They would celebrate diversity by using their sponsorship to enforce conformity.

They insisted that Rugby must prove it was all about inclusion, and how better to celebrate inclusion than by excluding their best player …. because of his views on what happens when you die.

So Rugby Australia acted at the behest of sponsors to rid themselves of their best player in what became a publicity and legal nightmare, costing the code millions in lawyers’ fees and many more millions in a settlement with Folau.

The loss of its star fullback did not help the Wallabies bid to attract a TV deal. Nor did it help them to progress beyond the quarter finals of the 2019 World Cup. 

The fallout ultimately saw coach Michael Cheika resign.

Then Castle resigned.

And now, key sponsor Qantas has flown the coop.

The moral of the story?

Don’t waste time pandering to fickle, woke organisations that care more about a footballer’s views on the afterlife than a footballer’s ability to run and kick and tackle and pass.

Not only will you lose your fanbase, you’ll lose your woke sponsor the moment the wind changes.

Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said the COVID-19 pandemic meant the airline could no longer afford to support Australian Rugby.

“Like all Australians, we’ll continue to cheer them on from the sidelines,” she said.

News of Qantas’ departure led some to wonder if Israel Folau might return to the Wallabies team. But even if he wanted to, the code can no longer afford him.

Rugby Australia’s humiliation is complete.

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