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The day Sonny Bill Williams lost respect for All Blacks teammate

By Josh Raisey
New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams (Getty Images)

Playing in two World Cup-winning All Blacks sides would teach a player a lot about who his teammates are, but Sonny Bill Williams learned the greatest lesson about one of his teammates away from the pitch or training paddock.

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The 58-cap All Black was taught a “truth of life” from an unnamed teammate during his time with the national team, who failed to “stand up when it really mattered”.

The incident occurred after then-All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen had set a curfew for the team ahead of a big match.

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The former rugby league and union superstar opened up in an interview about what happened after the curfew was set, and how it resulted in his teammate’s words being “hollow” to him from then on.

“I was playing for the All Blacks and after a big win our coach Shags [Hansen] set a curfew because of the big game the next week,” Williams said.

“Despite that, some of us went out to celebrate a teammate’s milestone. We got back a little late, breaking the curfew.

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“The next morning, as we headed to the bus, a meeting was called and we were all sent to the team room. Shags wasn’t happy. It was tough seeing the disappointment in the coach, but more so in our teammates who we let down’s faces.

“He told everyone who broke the curfew to stand up. You know what? In moments like these, you really discover who has your back. I’ll never forget the teammate that didn’t stand. He was sitting next to me and he chose to stay seated.

“You know in the future, we would play together a lot, we’d go into battle. But whenever he gave those motivational talks before the game, I’ll be honest, those words meant nothing to me. They were hollow. Because he didn’t stand up when it really mattered.

“Real strength isn’t just about how much muscle you have or what you can do in the weights room. It’s about standing up for what’s right even if that means standing alone.

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“This lesson isn’t just about the rugby field, but rather it’s a truth of life.”

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D
Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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