Wednesday 21 March 2018 / 02:58 AM


On Saturday night Sonny Bill Williams shouldered someone in the head, and apparently it was rugby league’s fault.

That, bizarrely, was the logic employed by at least two writers from New Zealand’s two largest media organisations, along with numerous fans, in the wake of Williams becoming the first All Black in 50 years to be shown a red card.

A momentary lapse of concentration? No. A decision clouded by red mist? Nope. Poor technique perhaps gone unnoticed or unfixed in what equates to seven-odd years as a union player? Yeah, right mate.

Out of all the possible reasons for SBW’s indiscretion, some chose to blame a sport he hasn’t played since the end of 2014.

Not only has he not produced a play-the-ball in more than two and a half years, but the NRL outlawed the shoulder charge at the end of 2012, meaning it wasn’t an accepted practice for the entirety of Williams’ second spell in rugby league from 2013-2014.

But still, just before the 25th minute at Westpac Stadium, in the split-second he had to think about how to make contact with a falling Anthony Watson, who was already being taken to ground, the theory is that Williams decided to cast his mind back to some time prior to 2009 and employ a trick he learnt exclusively in that other code.

If you hadn’t already guessed or heard, the All Blacks lost on Saturday night, going down 24-21 to a dogged British and Irish Lions side, who deserved credit for their performance in their second to last game of a tour where they have been attacked and ridiculed consistently by sections of fans and New Zealand media.

Rather than praise, many looked for any reason other than the actual play on the field as to why the All Blacks lost.

The easiest thing for those people was to blame the big bloke wearing No.12 and a rival code he used to play.

Sonny Bill Williams committed foul play. Sonny Bill Williams used to play rugby league. Sonny Bill Williams committed foul play because he used to play rugby league. Simple.

Curse the 13-man game, bringing thuggery to union since 1908. Or something like that.

It’s not all bad news though.

Sir Colin Meads was the last All Black to be sent from the field prior to Saturday night, way back in 1967. By the logic employed by those who blame Williams’ sending off on league, we can deduce that somehow this means Sonny Bill Williams is now as good as Sir Colin Meads was.

A silver lining from a horrid winter night in July 2017 when rugby league ultimately made the All Blacks lose a Test.

Add Comment

About the author

Corey Rosser

One of CBS’s newest contributors, Te Aroha product Corey is the New Zealand correspondent for, the editor for the excellent new site Kiwi League Central, and a guru of the local Auckland rugby league scene.

More nrl News

Special Features