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RFU release statement as ex-Super League star named in World 15

Former Super League and NRL star Israel Folau has been named in the World 15 to take on the Barbarians this weekend.

Folau was a major signing for the Catalans Dragons. He was really impressive in Super League recapturing the form we saw from him at the Melbourne Storm.

The versatile outside back has caused controversy in the past because of his stance on gay marriage and relationships.

In response, the RFU have released a statement about the importance of gay pride.

“We want rugby to be a game of opportunity, where all receive a warm welcome, regardless of background or experience,” said Tom Ilube, RFU Chair.

“Yet as we approach Pride month, it is important to acknowledge that people from the LGBTQ+ community continue to face discrimination and exclusion in all walks of life, sport included.

“The Barbarians have often made Twickenham their home over its 130+ year history. But we understand that many people from the LGBTQ+ community and their allies feel unwelcome and disheartened by the appeared acceptance of anti-LGBTQ+ viewpoints on the pitch.

“That is why the RFU wants to acknowledge this anxiety and is reflecting on the importance of Pride; of everyone having the right to exist as their true selves, and of feeling connected and united through rugby.

“Specifically, the RFU recognises the hurt caused to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans-women in particular, by the introduction of the Gender Participation Policy last year. We want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our dedication to reviewing this policy as evidence evolves.

“We understand that rebuilding trust will take time but are nonetheless committed to educating ourselves and those involved in the game regarding trans inclusion, listening to realities from LGBTQ+ inclusive clubs and amplifying the voices of the whole LGBTQ+ community.

“We are challenging, and will continue to challenge, exclusionary behaviour and micro aggressions to ensure everyone feels respected, empowered and accountable; that speaking up in rugby is easy, and that unacceptable behaviour and language is removed from our sport.

“We will share stories and realities, promote allyship and be ready to listen – leaders in the game are committed to listening and learning from diverse voices and we will actively seek out these voices more regularly, recognising the power and opportunity which greater diversity can bring.”

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