Nigel Owens Has His Say On Vunipola & Folau Following Controversial Homophobic Comments
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Welsh referee Nigel Owens has weighed in on Israel Folau’s homophobic outburst and Billy Vunipola’s decision to come out on social media and defend the Australian.
Folau had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia following his latest outburst, while Vunipola was issued with verbal warnings from both the RFU and his club Saracens.
Speaking on the Jim White Show on talkSport, Owens, who came out publicly as a homosexual back in 2007, says Vunipola should not judge people on their “sexual orientation, the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs or political views.”
“I think he [Vunipola] should judge people on the person that he is. Not on the colour of his skin, not on his sexual orientation, not on his religious beliefs or political views.” Owens said
“Just judge a person on the decent person that they are.”
“There are some things in life that you can choose and your sexuality is not one of them.”
“I respect people who are brought up with religious beliefs, and some who are entrenched and will follow those religious beliefs, no matter how narrow minded they may be to the rest of us
“But that is their beliefs and I understand that and respect that. But I’d also like him to understand and respect that this is who I am, and I’m glad rugby has allowed me to be who I am.
“Rugby is an inclusive sport for everybody involved in it and I think that is the important message from the huge, huge majority of people out there in rugby.”
“It won’t make a difference to me who I will referee. I will referee the game that is in front of me and I will treat every player on that field with respect.”
“I’ve refereed those players (Vunipola and Folau) in the past and they’ve treated me with respect.”
As for Folau, Owens respects he right to have an opinion – but of course does not agree with the fullback’s views.
“I respect someone has the right to have that opinion.” Owens added
“I don’t agree with the opinion. Although everyone has the right to have his view, you then have to understand the consequences when you express the view that can be very, very hurtful to a lot of people.”
“You have to take responsibility I believe for your actions.”
“I don’t judge people, I have a job to do on the field and I will just referee what’s in front of me and treat everyone on that field the same.”
“I think it’s hugely important that rugby maintains that value and ethos of respect.”