New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams to appeal Rugby Championship opener ban
Committee confirm suspension following red card against British & Irish Lions runs until the day after Australia meeting on August 19
Sonny Bill Williams has appealed against a ruling that would see him miss New Zealand’s Rugby Championship opener against Australia next month for the red card he received during the British & Irish Lions series.
The All Blacks centre was sent off for a dangerous shoulder charge on Lions winger Anthony Watson in the second test in Wellington earlier this month and suspended for four matches.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen had hoped Williams could serve the ban by missing the third Lions test, the final match of the Auckland Blues’ Super Rugby season and two other games.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) proposed counting a pre-season match for his National Provincial Championship (NPC) side Counties Manukau, and an internal Counties trial or a “three-way” warm-up match played by the All Blacks against two NPC sides as the other two games.
A three-man judicial committee, Sydney lawyer Adam Casselden and former Wallabies David Croft and John Langford, however said the latter matches were insufficiently meaningful.
“Since the hearing on 2 July, the disciplinary committee has been receiving and reviewing additional submissions and evidence from the player’s side relating to his upcoming schedule of matches,” World Rugby said.
“Following due consideration, the disciplinary committee has ruled that Williams’ suspension will extend up to and including 19 August. As such, he is free to play again from 20 August.”
The All Blacks face the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on August 19, with the return match against Australia in Dunedin the following week.
“Sonny Bill Williams has appealed the World Rugby judicial committee’s decision not to include the All Blacks match on 11 August in the four week suspension,” NZR said
Williams, the first All Black to be sent off in a test for half a century, is likely to be replaced in the New Zealand midfield by Ryan Crotty.