4 Aug 2017

SBW wins appeal, free to play against Australia

6:33 am on 4 August 2017

All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams will be available for the Rugby Championship opener against Australia in a fortnight after winning the appeal against his suspension.

However World Rugby isn't happy.

Sonny Bill Williams is red carded by referee Jerome Garces. New Zealand All Blacks v British and Irish Lions. 2nd Rugby union test match. Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 1 July 2017.

Sonny Bill Williams, left, is given his red card during the second test against the Lions in Wellington. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Williams appealed against the details of his four-match suspension following his red card in New Zealand's 24-21 loss in the second test against the British and Irish Lions last month.

Global governing body World Rugby revealed "surprise" at the decision of an independent appeal panel to deem New Zealand's match against Counties Manukau and Taranaki - with the All Blacks playing 40 minutes against each side - as meeting the regulations constituting a match.

"A game being played by New Zealand against Counties Manukau and Taranaki on 11 August that had been excluded from the suspension by the original disciplinary committee, has now been deemed to comply with the regulations' definition of a 'match'," read a statement issued on behalf of World Rugby.

"And, as such, that match will be included as part of the player's suspension. Accordingly, Williams is suspended from all forms of rugby up to and including 11 August."

World Rugby later responded by insisting it would respect Williams' right to face Australia next month - but that it would seek clarity on just what represented a match among rugby's complex rules and regulations.

"While World Rugby respects the decision of the independent appeal committee to uphold the appeal by New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams against the matches that counted towards his four-week suspension, it is surprised by the committee's interpretation of the definition of 'match' (which is defined in Regulation 1 as 'a game in which two teams compete against each other')," it said.

"With the appeal process having been exhausted, World Rugby will refer the interpretation of the regulation to the Regulations Committee when it meets in September to examine the findings in the context of the game's regulations to ensure universal clarity and compliance with the meaning of the regulation moving forward."

- AAP

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