Two times Rugby World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams broke an unwanted record in 2017
Rugby great Sonny Bill Williams reflected on becoming the first All-Black to receive a red card in 50 years during the Irish and British Lions tour in 2017.
Sonny was expelled from the field in Wellington for a crunching tackle on Lions tourist Anthony Watson. Referee Jerome Garces saw fit to show the then 32-year old a red card making him the first All Black to be red-carded in half a century of rugby.
Sonny’s indiscipline would end up costing his team badly, swinging the result in favour of Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions and ultimately a drawn series.
The former heavyweight boxer was interviewed as part of an Amazon documentary on the New Zealanders 2017 campaign and he used the opportunity to reflect on the difficult moment.
“It’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life,” he said.
“It was just a blur you know. Probably like a nightmare I guess. For the ref to make such a dramatic call in a massive game like that you know. 50 years, that’s a big call.”
“Walking off they said you can sit on the sideline or go in the sheds. My first thought was I let the team down and I’ll go inside the sheds. I put my head down and thought ‘nah’ and went over to the bench.”
But the former Bulldogs star revealed the support he received in the aftermath of the incident.
“The toughest thing for me personally, was ‘like man, I let down the team’,” said an emotional Williams.
“Nah, I didn’t talk.
“After the game, (the) coach came to me straight away. That’s what the All Black environment is, we’re brothers. You got to pick your brother up when he’s down. The boys rallied around me.
“It’s something that for myself, I will have to live with for the rest of my life.”