The New Zealand Rugby Union has been boxed into a corner and is on the ropes after Sonny Bill Williams landed a searing uppercut to their credibility.
Just when it looked as though Williams was giving his all to the mighty cause of rugby, news of Williams partaking in a boxing match in the first weekend of super fifteen next February jostles its way into our consciousness. Having showed commendable commitment to his new sport, many of us were finally prepared to forgive him for walking out on the Canterbury Bulldogs. Then he goes and mars it all by pulling a selfish stunt like this. And now he’s back to square one.
He claims boxing training will help his rugby for the 2012 season. Will improve his footwork, he says. Maybe it will. Just might cause him a serious season ending injury too. One punch from his opponent Scott Lewis, and potentially brain damage could be incurred. That said, perhaps his decision to get into a boxing ring instead of helping his Canterbury Crusader mates out smacks of someone that lacks the smarts to realise that he is letting others down. Or it could be that Williams knows what he is about and cynically lining his pockets with the green stuff is of more importance to him than being in the trenches with his teammates.
Maybe if this fight was to take part earlier in the summer, then some credence could be given to Williams’s argument that he is doing it as part of his training for the upcoming season. But on the first weekend of Super fifteen? Either he is procuring himself copious amounts of coin for the fight or he simply doesn’t give a toss about rugby and his employers. Not to mention all the fans out there. Perhaps Crusader fans would be within their rights to expect a refund as many of them would have been going to the opening match to watch Williams play.
But what would he care? As long as Sonny Bill Williams gets what’s best for Sonny Bill Williams, he’s happy. Some lucrative sponsorship deals here, a cashed up foray into the boxing ring there. Only way the Rugby Union could entice him to these fair shores, it seems. To think, we were all gullible enough to believe that Williams genuinely cared enough that he would choose to give his all to the cause of the New Zealand rugby. Turns out that those cynical types, that cared to illuminate anybody that would listen when Williams originally signed with the NZRU that he was only here on a hit and run mission to fulfil a dream of playing for the All Blacks at the world cup, were right.
Of course, the whole shemozzle doesn’t reflect particularly well on the NZRU. Taken for a ride somewhat, they appear powerless to do anything but bow to the demands of their prized prima donna. If they don’t give Williams what he wants, then they risk losing his services after the World Cup. In reality, there is more chance of the always patriotic Steve Hansen wearing nothing but a body painted New Zealand flag and break-dancing on the moon in said attire than there is of Williams staying in New Zealand in 2012 to dedicate himself to rugby.
And ask yourself this; if this was any other player, would the Union allow them to indulge in a boxing match? Not likely. The Rugby Union even refuses to select overseas based players for the All Blacks. No matter that those players such as Nick Evans are giving their all for their sport, showing total commitment, regardless of where they are based. How they must feel knowing that they would give anything to still be playing for their country, all the while seeing Williams laugh in the face of the famous black jersey.
So, one rule for Williams and a different version for the rest of the New Zealand super 15 teams, as well as the test squad.
Lucky for Williams then, that he has mastered all the necessary skills of rugby to such an extent that he is light years ahead of any other player and therefore able to take time away from rugby training to indulge his boxing fantasies.
Clearly being a rugby genius of biblical proportions, and with his obvious dedication to the cause, he will lead the All Blacks to their first World Cup trophy in twenty-four years.