New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams has faced something of a lashing from fans following his try-preventing antics during the All Blacks’ defeat of France at the weekend.
The last time Williams was involved in a contest against a northern hemisphere side, against the British and Irish Lions this past summer, the 32-year-old was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson, an incident which put an end to the dynamic centre’s involvement in the drawn Test series.
Now, against France on Saturday, the Kiwi has once again fallen foul of the rules of the game, this time in a move that has fans divided over whether it was a cynical move or one of plain stupidity.
Take a look.
— EatSleepRugby (@eatsleeprugby) November 13, 2017
Rather than simply catch the ball for a 22m drop-out, Williams merely slapped the ball into touch and out of reach of the outstretching arms of France’s Yoann Huget.
While such a move is permitted in rugby league, Williams’ first love, it is anything but in the union code and referee Angus Gardner quickly awarded a penalty try and sent Williams to the sin bin.
Following the contest, which the All Blacks laboured to a somewhat flattering scoreline of 38-18, rugby fans were less that complimentary about what the New Zealand media euphemistically referred to as a ‘brain explosion’ and a ‘brain fade’.
@SonnyBWilliams no discipline again. Red and now yellow card. Don’t you know the rules you one trick pony?
— Josh Cameron (@jocajosh) November 12, 2017
Deliberately tapping the ball over the dead ball line is a cynical professional foul, and those tend to collect yellows.
— My name goes here (@vforvulgarity) November 11, 2017
Sonny Bill Williams WTH? Face Palm moment pale. Unnecessary pressure for the All Blacks sasa…
— V's King ? (@ben_aloha) November 11, 2017
Sonny Bill Williams is playing volley-ball in the end zone !! ????
— Flavio Bonnet (@FlavioBonnet) November 11, 2017
Sonny Bill Williams gets a yellow card for batting the ball away over the dead ball line. e could've caught it. Angus Gardner gives penalty try. Abysmal refereeing. #FRAvNZL
— Cillian O Conchuir (@killeroc) November 11, 2017
Bloody Sonny Bill Williams why the hell is he even in the team hopeless.
— Kiwifly (@VdveenDavid) November 11, 2017
— Will Agnew (@willagnew) November 11, 2017
— B2☸️DA (@dhammadanam) November 11, 2017
Sonny Bill Williams you fucking dumbass!!!! smh??
— Jason (@ABsfanforever) November 11, 2017
@SonnyBWilliams ill send you a copy of the rule book
— James cook (@Agressivehongi) November 11, 2017
While fans disputed the call to award the penalty try, they were uniformly critical of Williams for his faux pas, a moment that marred what was an otherwise solid performance for the world champions.