An appeal by New Zealand centre Sonny Bill Williams against the matches which a disciplinary committee counted towards his four-week suspension following his red card for dangerous charging contrary to Law 10.4(g) during the second New Zealand versus British and Irish Lions test in Wellington on 1 July has been upheld by an appeal panel independent of World Rugby.
A game being played by New Zealand against Counties Manukau and Taranaki on 11 Augustthat had been excluded from the suspension by the original disciplinary committee has now been deemed to comply with the regulations’ definition of a “match” 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.
The hearing took place on 1 August and was heard by an appeal committee that is independent of World Rugby, chaired by Mr Justice Graeme Mew (Canada) along with Shao-Ing Wang (Singapore) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa).
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”).
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.