The Rugby Union Players' Association has pledged to undertake an "expression of faith and beliefs review" to ensure its members have clear parameters on how they should express religious views in the wake of a "sad outcome" for sacked Wallabies and Waratahs star Israel Folau.
Rugby Australia terminated the 30-year-old's contract on Monday, almost six weeks after he posted a photo to Instagram that said homosexuals were destined for hell unless they repented.
Folau had 72 hours to appeal the sanction handed down by a three-person panel but opted not to. He is, however, expected to take the matter to court.
"My decision not to commence Rugby Australia's appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel's findings," Folau said in a statement on Monday. "I simply do not have confidence in Rugby Australia's ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process."
RUPA has called on RA to provide players with a framework outlining what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of expressing their religious views and making sure they are not vilifying members of the rugby community.
"RUPA notes that Rugby AU has not yet provided any clear or specific parameters to the professional playing group specifying how it expects individual professional players to express their faith and beliefs in manner acceptable to Rugby AU," the RUPA statement read.
"To address this, RUPA will immediately establish and undertake an expression of faith and beliefs review alongside its players, incorporating advice from those with and without strong religious beliefs, with an aim to hold a first meeting of the review committee following the conclusion of the Super Rugby and World Rugby Sevens Series seasons.
"There remains a great deal of work to be done in relation to this subject but what remains paramount and a non-negotiable is empowering all of RUPA's members to feel confident in understanding their rights and their responsibilities when expressing their faith and beliefs.
"RUPA's first and foremost priority is the wellbeing of all professional rugby players in Australia, past and present. RUPA will continue to support Israel to ensure that Israel, Maria and their broader family receive any personal support they need in this difficult transition from Australian rugby."
RUPA will invite RA and Super Rugby representatives to participate in the review and believe that greater collaboration will result in a better outcome for all parties involved.
A number of Waratahs and Wallabies shared messages of support for Folau after RA's announcement on Friday that his contract would be torn up.
Before the Reds' clash with the Waratahs in Brisbane, Queensland captain Samu Kerevi posted a photo of he and Folau with the caption: "Tomorrow night won't be the same without you there mana [Fijian for brother]. God's in control, always."
Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu said he would miss his "toko", which is Tongan slang for brother or close friend.
The Folau issue has crippled the game and drawn attention away from Super Rugby.
If Folau does take the matter to the courts, the saga could drag on for months to come.
"RUPA appreciates the difficult position which this incident has placed on Israel's teammates and the broader professional playing group, and we will continue to support each RUPA member," the statement read.
"RUPA remains proud of its diverse playing group and is committed to empowering and supporting each of its members to have conviction to express their faith and beliefs confidently."
- SMH/The Age