Wigan Warriors announce 'Pride Day' for Catalans game as Dragons sign Israel Folau

By Sports Desk January 28, 2020

Wigan Warriors have marked Catalans Dragons' controversial signing of Israel Folau by confirming they will hold a 'Pride Day' when the two teams meet on March 22.

Folau's return to rugby league was announced on Tuesday as the former Wallabies full-back - sacked by Rugby Australia last year for homophobic posts on social media - penned a one-year contract with the Dragons.

Although the deal was ultimately approved by the RFL, who insisted "the moral responsibility for deciding whether to sign a player sits with individual clubs", Super League chief executive Robert Elstone was critical of Catalans, suggesting "the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport".

In a sweetly timed move, Wigan greeted the news with confirmation that they will use their home game against Catalans to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski said: "Here at Wigan Warriors we are committed to the core values of inclusion and respect. 

"Our community foundation have a long history of supporting local LGBTQ+ groups and initiatives, and we want everyone who engages with our game to feel welcome, valued and, most of all, respected.

"Rugby league has a strong history of inclusion, of breaking down barriers and of being a forward-thinking sport.

"I think that today more than any day that it is vitally important we reiterate that message. We’re looking forward to working with charities, local and hopefully national groups, to make this day a success."

The official Twitter account of the Rugby League World Cup also made a pointed reference to Folau's return to the sport, sharing an image of the three World Cup trophies - for the men's, women's and wheelchair competitions - draped in rainbow ribbons alongside the caption: "One game. Together."

Folau settled a legal dispute with Rugby Australia in December. His contract had been terminated for a "high-level breach" after he posted hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram.

In a statement announcing his arrival in Perpignan, Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch said: "We want to give Israel a new opportunity to shine on the field. We do not endorse or share the words of Israel based on his sincere religious belief.

"We do not share or tolerate his opinions and we are totally committed to making our club and our sport open and welcoming to everyone. We think that these kind of remarks should not be expressed publicly, in particular by a top sportsman.

"We have an agreement signed with the RFL. Any violation will result in the immediate termination of Israel's contract and a substantial fine for the club."

Folau added: "I understand the opinions expressed by the Super League and the Rugby Football League. 

"I am a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, I never intended to hurt anyone and I will no longer make any public comments about it. I look forward to my return to the fantastic sport of rugby league under the colours of the Catalans Dragons."

Related items

  • French's fine form continues and Manfredi scores on comeback as Wigan sink Hull French's fine form continues and Manfredi scores on comeback as Wigan sink Hull

    Bevan French continued his excellent start to the Super League season and Dom Manfredi scored on his return from a 10-month injury lay-off as Wigan Warriors laid down a marker by beating Hull FC 26-12 at the DW Stadium.

    French - Wigan's stand-out player in the early weeks of the campaign - scored his side's opening try on Sunday before Hull hit back to level the score at 8-8.

    After Zak Hardaker's penalty had edged the Warriors ahead once again, French turned provider early in the second half, the half-back's lovely pass helping Manfredi to score on his first start since he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage last April.

    Hull, who lost to St Helens last time out, were ultimately well-beaten as Jackson Hastings and Willie Isa added further touchdowns for the hosts.

    The visitors' initial four-pointer came courtesy of former Saints wing Adam Swift, who combined with Josh Griffin for an eye-catching length-of-the-field effort. 

    Griffin, who was sent to the sin bin along with Wigan's Liam Farrell following a first-half scuffle, rounded off the scoring late on, but by that stage Hull's hopes of victory had evaporated.


  • Plucky Roosters see off St Helens to retain World Club Challenge Plucky Roosters see off St Helens to retain World Club Challenge

    Sydney Roosters have won the World Club Challenge for a record fifth time thanks to a hard-fought 20-12 victory over St Helens.

    The back-to-back NRL champions defeated Wigan Warriors in the 2019 one-off fixture and, despite falling behind against Saints on Saturday, once again came out on top against their Super League counterparts.

    Luke Thompson – who will head to Australia after the season to join the Canterbury Bulldogs – opened the scoring when he crashed over from Theo Fages' pass for a converted try.

    The Dragons roared back, however, with Daniel Tupou hanging on to a low pass by his boots before waltzing over the line on his side's left flank.

    Joseph Manu put the visitors in front when he touched down on the opposite side of the field for his first of the game, diving over as Saints were caught short of numbers out wide.

    Kyle Flanagan – making his debut for the Roosters – hit the posts with both conversion attempts, making it 8-6 at the half-time interval.

    Saints had opportunities to hit back after the break, wing Tommy Makinson ruled to have knocked on as he attempted to score under pressure.

    Instead it was the Roosters who crucially scored next, Manu grabbing his second try. Luke Keary then provided the finish following Siosiua Taukeiaho's initial break from inside his own half, putting the game beyond St Helens.

    Alex Walmsley did plunge over for a late consolation score, Makinson adding the extras, but Sydney held on to retain the trophy and maintain their 100 per cent record in the annual competition.

  • Rhinos rally from slow start to see off Salford Rhinos rally from slow start to see off Salford

    Leeds Rhinos recovered from a poor start to claim a second consecutive Super League victory with a 22-8 success at Salford Red Devils.

    The Rhinos thrashed Hull KR on Valentine's Day but initially struggled to carry momentum from that match into Saturday's clash at AJ Bell Stadium.

    Salford were 8-0 ahead after Niall Evalds and Tuimoala Lolohea crossed for tries in the 20th and 27th minutes.

    But Luke Gale crucially crossed on the stroke of half-time to give Leeds a foothold.

    And the game turned in the space of five second-half minutes as Mikolaj Oledzki followed Luke Briscoe in scoring to give the visitors the lead for the first time.

    There was no way back for Salford and Jack Walker's try nine minutes from time sealed victory for Leeds.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.