Sonny Bill: Logo cover-up 'nothing personal'

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:51
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UPDATE: New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Blues have accommodated Sonny Bill Williams' request to have advertising from two major sponsors removed from his Super Rugby playing jersey.

This is on the basis of Williams' conscientious objection to this category of sponsorship, which can only be lodged on the basis of genuine family, ethical or religious grounds, and consent to excuse the player from an activity is not to be unreasonably withheld.  

Previously Williams has not been required to undertake promotional activities relating to categories of sponsors he has lodged objections to on religious grounds. Williams has now clarified his preference is not to wear logos from banks, alcohol brands and gambling sponsors on his team uniform. 

"I want to be clear that this is nothing personal against the sponsors," said Williams.

"My objection to wearing clothing that markets banks, alcohol and gambling companies is central to my religious beliefs and it is important to me to have been granted this exemption.

"As I learn more, and develop a deeper understanding of my faith I am no longer comfortable doing things I used to do. So while a logo on a jersey might seem like a small thing to some people, it is important to me that I do the right thing with regards to my faith and hope that people respect that.
 
“I know I'm not perfect. Every day I work hard to become a better person. I want to thank the Blues and New Zealand Rugby for working with me through this matter over the last couple of days and respecting my religion and accommodating my request."

NZR General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said: "Sonny holds clear religious beliefs in relation to this matter and we respect those. Conscientious objections need to be genuine, and we believe this is. We want to thank our Super Rugby sponsor for their understanding of this." 

Blues Chief Executive Michael Redman was satisfied the matter had been dealt with.

"We are pleased that this matter has been resolved promptly and wish to thank our sponsor for their accommodation of this request from Sonny," said Redman.

New Zealand Rugby answered various questions concerning the Conscientious objection: 

What does the objection apply to?

The most recent discussions concern removal of the sponsors' logos from all Blues training and playing kit. For clarity, it does not include the removal of the Super Rugby sponsor from the tournament logo as this is a compulsory logo on all New Zealand Super Rugby teams jerseys in the tournament. 

This is an extension of Sonny Bill Williams existing objections to promotional activity for financial institutions, alcohol and gambling sponsors.
 
Does it apply to ancillary branding such as signage?

No. The removal of the logos only relates to the training and playing kit that Sonny Bill Williams wears. Ancillary branding such as on-field advertising, media backdrops, stadium advertising branding etc is not impacted. 

What about the All Blacks sponsor?

Sonny Bill Williams has assured New Zealand Rugby that his objection does not extend to insurance companies in relation to training and playing kit. He has already been recused from promotional activities with the All Blacks' sponsor. 

Does this set a precedent?

No. The conscientious objection clause has been in the NZR and NZRPA collective agreement for some time and any player is entitled to invoke it based on genuine grounds. 

Sonny Bill Williams has previously lodged conscientious objections in relation to banking and finance companies and this is simply a clarification of that objection in relation to a specific employment service he provides, i.e. what he wears when he is playing rugby.

There have been other examples nationally and internationally of sporting codes respecting players’ religious faiths and accommodating aspects of those faiths.

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Fri, 28 April 2017
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
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Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
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Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Blues 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
Fri, 05 May 2017
Hurricanes v Stormers 07h35 Westpac Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 57 | 14
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
SUPER RUGBY
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 9 6 0 3 28
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 9 6 0 3 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10