Israel Folau could face off against Jarryd Hayne for The Frownlow Medal in 2021 if the banished cross-code star is allowed back into professional football. The showdown is being billed as Battle of the Christians but can only happen if the NRL or Super Rugby let Folau sign a professional contract.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.
“Battle of the Christians would be magnificent,” claimed event promoters, the Australian Christian Lobby.
“In one corner is Jarryd Hayne, convicted rapist and Hillsong Church member. In the other corner is Israel Folau, a member of Truth of Jesus Christ Church and Australia’s most famous homophobe. It is only fitting that these two role models fight for Australia’s most prestigious medal.”
“This showdown would be bigger than the Crusades, bigger than the Reformation, bigger even than one of Paul Gallen’s boxing matches.”
The showdown is only possible if the NRL welcome Folau back to the code after he was kicked out of Rugby Union and Rugby League for one too many homophobic tweets. So desperate are event organisers to see Folau take on Hayne for the medal that they initiated a social media campaign under the hashtag LetHimPlay.
“This is a widespread and expensive campaign, and shows how serious we are about seeing two devout Christians contest The Frownlow Medal.”
“Many punters doubt Israel could defeat Jarryd for the Frownlow this year,” continued the spokesman.
“Yes, Jarryd was found guilty of rape, but if Israel was allowed to return, that would give him a licence to make increasingly outrageous and homophobic statements an a daily basis. Again, it might be argued that they’re only words, and nothing compared to sexually assaulting a young woman, but advocates and workers in various sectors remind us that deeply homophobic comments can have a devastating effect on members of the LGBTQI community, especially young people, and especially when those comments come from an athlete who is held up as a role model.”
“There could be grave consequences to giving Israel a platform to exercise his right to free speech. Consequences that would put him in contention to win The Frownlow Medal.”
The Australian Christian Lobby also advised against mocking their media campaign to have Folau reinstated.
“Remember, Scott Morrison is a fairweather football fan and a member of the Pentecostal church which shaped Jarryd Hayne, so we are confident of our influence in the halls of power. Admittedly, Israel did claim that Scott would go to hell, but Israel says that about everyone outside the 30-strong congregation of his church, and the PM has a famously short memory when it suits him.
What’s more, Frownlow judges even nominated a woman this year, so Israel certainly deserves a nomination.”