World XV coach Steve Hansen said Israel Folau “can’t be punished for life” for his homophobic stance after the talented back was booed at Twickenham on Sunday.
Folau scored a try for the World XV in their 48-42 loss to the Barbarians but was jeered throughout the match by around 100 banner-waving LBTQ+ protesters, while England’s governing Rugby Football Union flew a pride flag on the roof at Twickenham.
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Folau, an outspoken Christian, who won 73 caps for the Wallabies, was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 after a social media post warning “hell awaits” gay people.
The 34-year-old has since switched allegiance to Tonga and is set to play at this year’s Rugby World Cup in France.