Wallabies superstar Israel Folau was the poster boy for a gay rugby tournament before he announced he did not support same-sex marriage.
Folau, 28, declared he was opposed to gay marriage on Twitter on Wednesday, saying ‘I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions, but personally, I will not support gay marriage’.
The former rugby league and AFL player copped backlash for his comments, and it can now be revealed he was the poster boy for gay rugby tournament the Bingham Cup in 2014.
Israel Folau (right) appeared alongside Wallabies teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper on the cover of LGBTI magazine Star Observer in 2014
The Wallabies superstar was promoting the Bingham Cup, a tournament known as the ‘World Cup’ of gay rugby union
With frosted blonde hair and wearing a tight, white singlet, Folau also appeared on the cover of LGBTI magazine Star Observer with teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper to promote the Sydney event – also known as the ‘World Cup’ of gay rugby union.
At the time, a Bingham Cup spokesman said Folau was a ‘strong advocate for ending all forms of the discrimination in sport’.
‘He does a lot of work in that space.’
Folau also commented on the homophobic slurs used by Waratahs teammate Jacques Potgeiter in their Super Rugby game against the Brumbies in 2015.
When David Pocock alleged Potgeiter had used slurs during the game, Folau said rugby union was ‘a game of inclusion’.
‘Everyone is welcomed in and so, you know, me personally, I don’t think there’s any of that within this club and also within the game of rugby.’
Folau tweeted that he would not support gay marriage but had ‘love and respect [for] all people’
Folau is engaged to New Zealand Silver Ferns netball player Maria Tutaia (pictured left)
Folau was raised as a Mormon and switched to the Assemblies of God church with his family
Pocock himself expressed his support for same-sex marriage not long after Folau’s tweet, quoting Desmond Tutu in saying ‘my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together’, using the hashtags #VoteYes and #MarriageEquality.
Folau, who is engaged to New Zealand netball international Maria Tutaia, was raised as a Mormon and switched to the Assemblies of God church with his family in 2011.