There is a video on-line of Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle talking about her meeting with Wallabies star Israel Folau and his manager into his social media post saying gays are going to hell if they don’t repent and turn to God.

ABC News Australia

Israel Folau a ‘strong role model’ despite saying gay people go to hell, Rugby boss Raelene Castle says

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has described besieged Wallabies star Israel Folau as a “strong role model” despite his social media post saying that gay people were going to hell.

Full-back Folau, a devout Christian, said homosexuals would go to “HELL” unless they “repent their sins” in a comment on Instagram on April 4.

He met rugby hierarchy today in Sydney to discuss social media policy, after he had been widely criticised for his comments.

Folau, 29, is one of the biggest names in Australian rugby.

“We are in a negotiation with Israel to extend [his contract] and we would really like him to stay in rugby, that’s hugely important to us, he is a great player, he has delivered some great outcomes for us and has been a really strong role model in the Pacific Islander community and we would like to see he stays in rugby,” Castle said.

When asked if Folau understood the pain his comments could cause, Ms Castle replied: “Yes, and I think Israel has acknowledged that maybe he could have put a positive spin on that same message and done it in a more respectful way.”

An Instagram comment that reads "HELL. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God." and a man looking at the camera.

Folau has previously spoken out against same-sex marriage, after the Wallabies expressed support for the Yes campaign last year.

In a tweet posted on September 13 last year, Folau said: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”

The tweet prompted a backlash and accusations of homophobia.

Folau was raised Mormon however joined another church connected with Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal group, in 2011.

His views on same-sex marriage is in conflict with that of the Wallabies’ major sponsor Qantas, which has supported campaigns promoting LGBT rights and acceptance.

Qantas’ sponsorship deal with the Wallabies is in place until 2020.

In a statement last week, a Qantas spokesperson condemned Folau’s comments.

“We’ve made clear to Rugby Australia that we find the comments very disappointing,” the spokesperson said.

‘Discrimination against people of faith in sport’

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) issued a statement today saying it “cautiously welcomed” Rugby Australia’s decision not to discipline Folau for his social media comments.

The ACL’s managing director, Martyn Iles, said Falau should not have had to explain his actions to Rugby bosses.

“It is likely that the handling of this incident has set a precedent in Rugby Australia and other sporting codes where the ability of players to articulate mainstream Christian views is chilled. This is discrimination against people of faith in sport,” Mr Iles said.

He said the lobby was concerned that “Falou’s appropriate use of social media could stifle his freedom to speak openly about his faith and marginalise his Christian identity into the future”.