Folau to miss World Cup as RA saga drags into 2020
Israel Folau and Rugby Australia could face a February 2020 trial if they fail to resolve a multimillion-dollar unfair dismissal case brought by the former Wallabies player and staunch Christian.
Folau's lawyer Stuart Wood QC faced the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on Tuesday for a directions hearing, during which chief judge Will Alstergren encouraged the parties to settle their dispute through mediation on December 13, but if that failed, to proceed to trial on February 4 next year.
Folau wants $10 million in damages and his contract reinstated by former employers Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs, claiming he was sacked on religious grounds following an April Instagram post about gay people going to hell unless they repented.
Lawyers for Rugby Australia indicated they may apply for the case to be heard by the Federal Court of Australia rather than the Federal Circuit Court, and may also apply to have the case transferred to Sydney.
Mr Wood criticised the move, saying it was an attempt to delay proceedings and that he wanted Judge Alstergren to be aware of "what's going on in the background".
The allegation was denied by Rugby Australia lawyer Adam Hochroth.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties will return to court on December 17 for a directions hearing ahead of trial. Folau was not present at Tuesday's hearing, which was also live-streamed to Sydney.
In a mediation hearing in June this year, Folau and Rugby Australia failed to reach an agreement.
The fullback yesterday hit pause on social media, temporarily shutting down his Twitter and Instagram accounts in a shock move that stunned those advising him.
Without explanation both accounts were running again by 6.30pm, although his Twitter followers had disappeared.
Folau's wife Maria also deleted her Twitter account, and had not reactivated it late on Monday evening.
- with AAP