NZ Prime Minister queries Sonny Bill logo cover-up

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 07:27
Large sonny bill williams blues 2017 800

REACTION: New Zealand's Prime Minister on Monday criticised All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams' decision to block out a sponsor's logo on his shirt apparently for religious reasons.

Williams appeared for the Blues during Saturday's loss to the Highlanders with a bank logo taped over on his collar.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) subsequently revealed Williams, a devout Muslim, has a "conscientious objection" clause relating to companies linked to products such as alcohol and tobacco.

In the bank's case it apparently related to Islam's objection to usury - earning high interest from loans - although the player has not yet clarified his stance.

Prime Minister Bill English said he did not see why Williams should receive special treatment when other players were expected to wear the team jersey.

"It's hard to understand how one guy gets to behave differently than the rest of them," he told TV3.

"I don't understand these professional contracts, but if you're in the team, you're in the team and you wear the team jersey."

NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew meanwhile admitted that Williams had put his organisation in a "tricky" position.

He said it allowed players to make a moral stand, but approached such complex issues on a case-by-case basis.

"They're all tricky because our commercial partners, with a lot of good faith, come in to support the game," he told Radio Sport.

"They obviously need to get a return on their investment. Part of that is the logo that we didn't see on Sonny Bill's jersey on Saturday night."

Tew acknowledged criticism that sponsors deserved better treatment because their money was paying the players' wages. 

"There is that element, isn't there? So that's why we don't draw a blanket line anywhere," he said. 

"We've got to sit down and work it through because different people have a different view of different things... it's a judgement call."

Tew said the Blues would discuss the issue this week with Williams and his agent Khoder Nasser.

Williams did not blank out the logo of Super Rugby's main sponsor, a banking and asset management group, which appears on the arm of the Blues' shirt.

It is also unclear whether his objections extend to a US insurance giant, the All Blacks' shirt sponsor, which has a multi-billion dollar mortgage loan business.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 18 November 2017
Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints 12h00 Sixways
Italy v Argentina 13h00 Florence
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Wales v Georgia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Australia 15h00 Twickenham
Wasps v Newcastle Falcons 15h30 Ricoh Arena
Ireland v Fiji 16h30 Aviva Stadium
Scotland v New Zealand 17h15 Edinburgh
France v South Africa 19h45 Paris
Sun, 19 November 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins 14h00 Sandy Park
Leicester Tigers v Bath 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Ulster v Treviso 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Leinster v Dragons 18h35 RDS Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 18h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 18h45 Kingston Park
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Welford Road
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 17 November 2017
Gloucester v Saracens 23 | 17
Tue, 14 November 2017
France XV v New Zealand 23 | 28
Sat, 11 November 2017
France v New Zealand 18 | 38
Ireland v South Africa 38 | 3
Wales v Australia 21 | 29
England v Argentina 21 | 8
Scotland v Samoa 44 | 38
Italy v Fiji 19 | 10
Sat, 04 November 2017
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 37 | 8
Connacht v Cheetahs 23 | 15
Edinburgh v Ospreys 37 | 10
Barbarians v New Zealand 22 | 31
Kings v Ulster 36 | 43
Japan v Australia 30 | 63
Fri, 03 November 2017
Scarlets v Treviso 20 | 8
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28