Raelene Castle insisted Rugby Australia (RA) did not back down in the Israel Folau case, saying settling was the best financial decision for the governing body.
Folau and RA reached a confidential agreement on Wednesday and issued corresponding apologies after an end to their legal dispute.
The 30-year-old was sacked by RA for what the body said was a “high-level breach” of its code after he posted hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” on Instagram. He had been warned over previous online posts in 2018.
After reports Folau would be paid eight million Australian dollars in damages – something Castle dismissed as “wildly inaccurate” – the RA chief executive defended the decision to settle.
“We didn’t back down. We needed to give the game cost certainty,” she told a news conference on Thursday.
“The feedback we were getting from our rugby community was that they wanted this matter settled, they want to go into the new year knowing that they can go in with a clean slate and start talking about rugby again instead of talking about this case.”
Folau settlement numbers are confidential but numbers being speculated are wildly inaccurate
— Raelene Castle (@raelenecastle) December 4, 2019
Castle, who insisted she would not resign, said settling was the best decision financially for RA.
“These are ultimately commercial decisions. We had to make a decision that was right for rugby in this country,” she said.
“We made the right decision in calling out Israel on his posts and on his inappropriate messaging. That remains the same, we stick to our values that inclusiveness is absolutely core to the key of rugby.
“Ultimately, taking this conversation further into a court situation was not helping the game so we made a decision that gave us cost certainty, that put us in the best financial situation entering the new year in a positive way.”
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