New Zealand appeal World Rugby's Sonny Bill Williams ban
By Mark Briggs
Last Updated: 28/07/17 11:25am
New Zealand are appealing against the way World Rugby have applied Sonny Bill Williams' suspension for the red card he received during the match against the British & Irish Lions.
The 31-year-old was given a four-week ban meaning he is unavailable until August 20. Unless the decision is overturned Williams will miss the all-important Investec Rugby Championship opener against Australia in Sydney a day before.
Williams received the suspension for a shoulder charge on wing Anthony Watson during the second Test on July 1. After his sending off in the 25th minute, the Lions subsequently went on to claim a famous 24-21 win in Wellington.
The high-profile centre has missed a total of four matches including the drawn third Test with the Lions and the Blues' final Super Rugby game against the Sunwolves.
In a statement, NZ Rugby said: "New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that Sonny Bill Williams has appealed the World Rugby judicial committee's decision not to include the All Blacks match on 11 August (a split game of 40 minutes each against Counties Manukau and Taranaki) in the four-week suspension given to Williams following a hearing into the red card he received in the second Test against the touring British & Irish Lions.
"As the matter will now be decided by an appeal committee, no further comment will be made at this time."
Williams became the first All Black in 50 years to be sent off in a Test match which led to his side losing their first game on home soil since 2009.
The All Blacks' second Rugby Championship fixture sees them face Australia again a week later at Dunedin. Even if Williams loses his appeal he would be able to feature in that game.