Williams suspended for 4 weeks

Sonny Bill Williams has been suspended for four weeks after being red carded for shoulder charging a Lions player and hitting him in the head.

There can be a fine line between hero and zero in top sport, and Williams is zero for last night’s test, zero for the 3rd text week, zero for the last Blues game of their Super season, and I’m not sure what he will miss after that.

Whether this penalty is disproportionate to what Lion player Vunipola copped for what looked like a similar offence and was only yellow carded (O’Brien is yet to go before the judiciary) is immaterial. Williams did something stupid and dangerous, got seen on field and red carded, and was suspended no doubt according to the judiciary rules.

“They’ve come to the conclusion that it was reckless, it wasn’t intentional.”


The Independent: Sean O’Brien cleared to play in third Test after swinging arm citing is dismissed

A New Zealand Rugby Union statement read: “Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence available, including all video footage and additional evidence from the player and submissions from his legal representative Max Duthie, the Independent Judicial Committee comprising Adam Casselden SC (Chair), David Croft (Ex-Australian and Queensland Reds player) and John Langford (Ex-Australian, Brumbies and Munster player) dismissed the citing complaint.”

“Firstly, I hope Waisake is ok,” O’Brien said after the decision was announced. “I’d like to thank the panel for carefully considering the case.”

Lions coach Warren Gatland added: “We’d like to thank the panel for their professional and diligent approach. We are pleased with decision. Sean is a tough but fair player and we are pleased that the panel dismissed the citing.”

With Vunipola getting away with nothing more than a yellow card for his charge on Barrett’s head this is like to stoke some controversy.

Earlier from The Independent: Lions considering dropping players for indiscipline following high penalty count and hot-headedness

The Lions are considering dropping players for indiscipline after an historic win over New Zealand was marred by a high penalty count and hot-headedness.

Graham Rowntree, the assistant coach, said there were “potentially” repercussions for selection after the Lions conceded 13 penalties, Mako Vunipola was sent to the sin bin and Sean O’Brien was cited for a swinging arm at the head of Waisake Naholo.

“If that’s what it takes. Gats [Warren Gatland, the head coach] has shown he’s not afraid of doing that if that’s what it takes,” Rowntree said. “It’s not as if it’s the same offenders. We’ll just be very frank with the lads. The pictures are undeniable, some of them. That’ll be a big focus this week.”

I expect Gatland will put out the strongest Lions team he can for next Saturday. It will be a fascinating game.


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 3, 2017

    How did O’Brien get off?

    • Not guilty plea, he and the Lions argued his case, the judicial panel must have agreed.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 3, 2017

        Didn’t do it? Wasn’t intentional? Didn’t happen?

        Seems bizarre to me.

        • It surprised me. I guess they claimed it was unintentional.

          However I thought the protection of the head was now supposed to be paramount and intent was not the only criteria.

          • Gezza

             /  July 3, 2017

            Gatland’s reported comments in the Independent are give some encouragement nevertheless. Clearly their Press & their coach are not blind, do not condone what they saw, and are not afraid to say so.

            • They will be well aware of what a red card for one of their players would do to their chances of a series win.

        • SBW got for weeks suspension for reckless, not intentional.

          I think that’s fair enough. But consistency would be good.

          • Gezza

             /  July 3, 2017

            That’s on the button. But God, I’d hate to be a referee for rugby Internationals. It’s better with the TMO’s but I think you’d have to have to a thicker skin than I’ve got. Corky or Alan density maybe?

            • Gezza

               /  July 3, 2017

              Ok maybe not Alan’s.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 3, 2017

              Fortunately my tactfulness compensates.

  2. O’Brien swung an arm with a close fist recklessly in to a player almost on the ground, collected his head and that is aok? Really? Really?

    On top of Vunipola’s shoulder to the head of a prone player who had rolled away from the tackle and was no impediment for ball clearance – he got yellow but really how it wasn’t red is interesting. it wasn’t Greyling on McCaw but it was on the way there in severity…

    All Blacks now find themselves pinata for any who care to have a swing – and the Lions have played niggle all tour – and any retaliation will be sent off [Yellow or Red].

    That is a poor decision by the judiciary – very poor.

    This is encouraging all in’s as you need to protect you skill players and you need to protect vulnerable players from this type of crap…

  3. duperez

     /  July 3, 2017

    Consistency is too much to expect both on the field and in the citing hearings. That has to be the conclusion when four supposedly top officials work together in a game and the number of consistencies occur and then the O’Brien decision.

    We are now used to players seeing “getting it wrong,” a collision of bodies when going for the ball in the air or to crash into a player, the accidental didn’t mean to do it but body in the wrong place at the wrong time, at the wrong speed something just happens and a player goes to the sideline. O’Brien didn’t try to do it but it happened.

    Worse than getting off lightly, he got off totally. If it were Super Rugby he wouldn’t be playing this next week at least.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 3, 2017

      Yes, I think it’s pretty disgraceful – the more so that no justifications have been given publicly.

    • Correct Dupe… O’Brien should have got a minimum week off for having no control over what he was doing.

      The clenched fist is a give away he was trying to deliver a “rattler” i.e. he was deliberately trying to inflict a little pain and to try shake the ball free – that’s all good if delivered on the body, its a mans game and tough.

      But he had no control and effectively delivered a roundhouse to the head….. how he avoid a stand down is beyond me…

  4. Brown

     /  July 3, 2017

    Good riddance to SBW. I think it was deliberate. This allows opportunity for a team player to shine and keep the show pony permanently in the dark.