CRICKET star Shane Watson has weighed in on Australiaâ€™s same-sex marriage debate as the fierce fallout from Israel Folauâ€™s tweet continues to make headlines around the world.
Watson tweeted a link to a Daily Telegraph story headlined ‘I nearly quit Wallabies for love,’ in which Folau reveals he almost walked away from Australian rugby to be with his New Zealand netball star fiancee Maria Tutaia.
Watson accompanied the link by writing ‘Love should have no boundaries #VoteYes #MarriageEquality.
As of midday AEST on Thursday, Folau’s tweet had triggered 3200 comments, 1400 retweets and 6000 likes.
Folau is a devout Christian but his views put him at odds with his employers, the Australian Rugby Union, who are supporting the ‘yes’ campaign along with Football Federation Australia, Cricket Australia and the NRL.
Australia is undergoing a marriage law postal survey and Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, speaking before Folau’s tweet, gave strong backing to same-sex rights in an interview with Fairfax Media.
Rugby: Israel Folau says is content with life off the field which is contributing to his good form on it.
“For a lot of guys, they’re about footy and our job is rugby, but sport has the ability to cross boundaries.
“We’re all very supportive of the ‘yes’ campaign and this is the approach we’ve taken. I know guys at the Waratahs have done work with the Sydney Convicts (Australia’s first gay rugby club).
Folau’s All Blacks rival TJ Perenara also spoke out, writing on Instagram: “Love doesn’t discriminate, why should we? Join NZ and vote yes to equality!!”
The Folau news went international with high profile outlets such as the BBC and The Telegraph carrying the story.
“Israel Folau is the fullback for a very disappointing Waratahs team, as well as a very disappointing Wallabies team,” Wall wrote.
“So at least it was keeping in character that he made a very disappointing tweet last night regarding marriage equality in Australia...
“In a week where the Australian Rugby Union would’ve just been looking forward to a rare occasion when the Wallabies would go into a game as favourites, Folau’s paradoxical show/lack of support for gay people is a sideshow they really didn’t need.”
“Israel Folau’s tweet signalling his opposition to SSM, and some misguided and stupidly ugly backlash that unfortunately followed, would not have changed had the ARU stayed on the fence,” Gearin wrote.
“I would like to think Folau felt supported enough in his rugby community to make a stand, and that even teammates who disagree with him would not follow the example of Twitter trolls who are piling on.”
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