In an impassioned defence of Australia’s star player, he pitched the controversy as a major moment in a wider fight for freedom of religion in the secular West.
‘The battle has just begun, and it’s a battle for all Australians,’ Jones said.
The former Wallabies coach, 78, has backed Folau since the full-back posted on Instagram last month that gay people are sinners and will go to hell.
On Tuesday night a panel found the devout Christian guilty of a high-level breach of conduct over the post – and is now deciding his punishment.
If sacked, Falou would be the first Australian athlete dismissed for expressing religious beliefs.
Jones, who managed the Wallabies in the 1980s, described the guilty verdict as ‘Orwellian’ on his 2GB radio breakfast show.
He said: ‘If we’re not free to articulate our religious beliefs and quote from the bible, and if we’re not free to speak for fear [of offending someone]… if that’s where we’ve reached in this country, we’ve reached a dark place and we are all at risk.’
Evoking the spirit of Gallipoli, he added: ‘The Australia that our Anzacs fought for seems to be disappearing before our very eyes.
‘It prompts you to wonder what kind of society we’re living in.
‘Nothing wrong with Israel, it’s the society and those who prosecute him who are sick.
‘But the cancer won’t kill us, it’s the cancer that will be removed, not Israel. The Australian people won’t accept this.
‘This is not the Australia our veterans fought for and we’re going to have to take our country back by argument and by the democratic and peaceful process – not by hate and revenge or vilification and intimidation.’
Jones backed up his argument by quoting a forthcoming speech by controversial right-wing politician Mark Latham.
Mr Latham will say: ‘How did our state and our nation ever come to this?
‘Those claiming outrage have fabricated their position solely for the purpose of censorship.
‘By excluding a committed Christian, they (Rugby Australia) are making their game less inclusive.
‘No Australian should live in fear of the words they utter.
‘This is a stunning intrusion on workers’ rights.’
Jones described Mr Latham’s forthcoming speech as ‘one of the most magnificent political speeches I’ve read.’
‘Israel Folau, with my support and the support of millions of Australians, will take this fight every inch of the way,’ Jones said.
‘Rugby union preaches diversity – they really mean uniformity. They preach inclusion but they exclude Israel.
‘We take oaths of office in every court of the land. The Prime Minister is sworn in with his hand on the Bible – the same bible which Israel Folau has quoted and he’s now had his dignity, his integrity, his employment, his vocation and his income stolen from him.
Jones added: ‘I coached Australian rugby, I was proud of it, I was proud of the boys and I was proud of everything we stood for. Today, I’m ashamed of the people who’ve inherited our proud legacy.’
Folau faced a three-member panel over three days of hearings to decide whether he had breached the code of conduct with his post that said ‘hell’ awaited ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers’ and others.
It means Folau will not receive any payout after he previously rejected a $1million settlement from Rugby Australia to walk away from his contract.
A defiant Folau was pictured leaving the code of conduct hearing in Sydney on Tuesday night with wife Maria, a New Zealand international netballer, by his side.
The panel will now consider what punishment the 30-year-old Wallabies full back faces.
‘The panel has today provided a judgement that Israel Folau committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019,’ Rugby Australia said in a statement.
‘The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction.’
‘A further update with be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction.’
The three-person panel, which consisted of chair John West QC, Rugby Australia representative Kate Eastman SC and the RUPA-appointed John Boultbee have retired to decide on Folau’s sanction following the epic code of conduct hearing in Sydney.
Had the panel deemed Folau’s breach of RA’s players’ code of conduct anything less than ‘high level’, the governing body would not have had the power to boot the three-times John Eales Medallist out of the game.
The best punishment Folau can now hope for is a suspension and/or a fine.
The panel’s decision may not be finalised for several days with no timeline established on when that will occur.
Both Folau and Rugby Australia will give written submissions to the panel before the sanction is handed down.
Folau also has 72 hours to lodge an appeal and have the matter heard by an all-new panel.
Rugby Australia and Folau’s Super Rugby side, the NSW Waratahs, have already publicly committed to terminating the player’s contract.
NSW Waratahs chairman Roger Davis called for a ‘quick’ and ‘common-sense’ settlement to the Folau saga on Tuesday.
Folau’s trial has stretched far beyond the rugby pitch, triggering a wider debate about freedom of speech and the power of employers to control their employees away from the workplace.
Folau and Rugby Australia are believed to have forked out an estimated $300,000 on legal bills since Saturday alone.
Folau’s Wallabies teammate Quade Cooper empathised with Folau’s plight but was uncertain whether there’s any way back for the stood-down star.
‘I’m not too sure – that’s something you would have to speak to (his Waratahs teammates) Bernard (Foley) and Nick Phipps and Michael Hooper and those guys about,’ Cooper told reporters earlier on Tuesday.
‘You feel for anyone who’s going through a difficult patch in their life.’
Wallabies hooker Taniela Tupou took to Facebook last week to pledge his support for Folau.
‘Seriously… Might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs,’ Tupou posted.
However, several senior players, including halfback Will Genia and five-eighth Bernard Foley have indicated they may have difficulties playing with Folau if he returned.
Folau will become the first Australian athlete dismissed for expressing fundamental religious beliefs if he’s sacked.