David Pocock v Israel Folau on same-sex marriage as Australia takes the issue to the ballot
Wallabies star Israel Folau says he will not support gay marriage, prompting a quick response from test team-mate David Pocock to voice his support of the "yes" campaign.
Two of Australian rugby's marquee men tweeted their differing opinions just 24 hours after the ARU joined football, cricket and rugby league in supporting same-sex marriage ahead of a vote on the issue.
Folau tweeted: "I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage." Some fans respected his right to his opinion while others voiced their frustration on social media.
I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.✌❤🙏— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) September 13, 2017
* AOC opposes same-sex marriage
The ARU took a stance on Tuesday to support the "yes" campaign, joining Cricket Australia, the Football Federation Australia and the NRL. The Australian Olympic Committee, however, has backed the "no" argument, saying they did not want to offend religious groups.
Several professional athletes liked or reacted to Folau's tweet and Pocock, who has been a passionate campaigner for marriage equality, chimed in from Japan.
Pocock has taken the year off rugby but will be back in the test ranks alongside Folau next year and tweeted a view in stark contrast to that of the Wallabies flyer.
A passionate campaigner for a variety of social issues including homophobia and marriage equality, Pocock said: "When my survey arrives I'll #VoteYes for justice and love."
Pocock famously declared four years ago that he would not tie the knot with his partner Emma Palandri until gay people were legally permitted to do the same.
As recently as last month, Pocock was using his Twitter account to encourage people to check their enrolment to ensure they are able to vote.
ARU SPEAKS WITH FOLAU
It's understood ARU officials have spoken to Folau about his stance after the board voted to support marriage equality.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said on Tuesday: "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].
"If that helps influence people, then fantastic. We're fully supportive of that and anything we can do."
Have lost respect for you today. Everyone gay straight, black white should have the right to marry who they love. #loveislove— Katherine Grace (@Kaffy14) September 13, 2017
Folau is one of Australia's most popular athletes, having played at the highest level in rugby union, rugby league and Australian football.
The 28-year-old was raised as a Mormon but is now a devout Christian after his family converted in 2011. He is one of the Wallabies' most influential players and is engaged to New Zealand netball player Maria Tutaia.
Folau credits his relationship with God as one of the reasons for his athletic prowess and his success in the NRL, AFL and rugby union.
Folau's tweet didn't only draw criticism, however, with many in support of his right to state his opinion among the 132 replies, 45 retweets and 172 likes within the first hour of it being posted on Twitter.
- Sydney Morning Herald