World XV coach Steve Hansen insisted Israel Folau should be able to move on from the anti-gay views that resulted in Rugby Australia terminating his contract.
Folau scored a try but was booed throughout Sunday’s 48-42 loss to the Barbarians by a group of around 100 banner-waving LGBTQ+ protesters, while the Rugby Football Union raised the pride flag on the roof of Twickenham.
The devout Christian was sacked by RA in 2019 for publishing a series of discriminatory posts on social media, including one telling “homosexuals” that “hell awaits you”.
— Barbarian FC (@Barbarian_FC) May 28, 2023
He has switched national allegiance to Tonga ahead of this autumn’s World Cup and Hansen, who was wearing a pride wristband, said a line should be drawn under the episode.
“Everyone is allowed an opinion. We don’t necessarily have to agree with each other on our opinions but you are entitled to have one,” Hansen said.
“You can’t be punished for the rest of your life for having an opinion that most of us disagree with.
“I’ve always been a great believer that you can’t help somebody change by leaving them on the outside.”
A 32,597 crowd enjoyed a 14-try thriller as stars such as Charles Piutau, Semi Radradra and Sbu Nkosi caught the eye in glorious conditions.
It provided Barbarians coach Eddie Jones with a triumphant return in his first appearance at Twickenham since being sacked by England in December.
In previous years he coached against the Barbarians and he urged the RFU to be careful over how its traditional annual fixture against the Red Rose is marketed in the future.
“I can speak as a former England coach. I don’t think England should play the Barbarians, unless it’s a younger England team,” Jones said.
“At this time of the season you can never pick the England team, so it shouldn’t be called England. It should be called England President’s XV or something like that.
“Playing against the Barbarians is a great idea but to try and sell it as England is not honest. It’s not honest.”