Sonny Bill Williams: New Zealand star gives Rugby World Cup medal to young boy and is presented with replacement at award ceremony
This is the Independent’s on-line headline we awoke to on Sunday morning.
I am deeply disconcerted by this event for three main reasons.
Number one: Jonny Getz
Here we have yet another example of bad behavior being rewarded.
We see it every day; in the supermarket… in the restaurant… at the airport… and
most of all, anywhere that sells phones, tablets or electronic gaming devices. Wailing, mithering brats who persist until the invertebrate parent caves in to their demands. It’s a cross between Æthelred the Unready and Al Qaeda. Lone wolf always wins.
We are rearing a generation of kids called Jonny Getz: I’ll spell it out for you — what little Jonny wants, little Jonny gets.
If a middle-aged man (or woman) had done a ‘Charlie Line’ they would have been arrested, escorted from the ground and fined one thousand pounds.
And quite rightly too.
Instead of which, the pitch invader is rewarded with a World Cup winner’s medal. Where’s either the logic or the justice here?
Number two: Into the long grass
Have you ever got rid of a medal that you’ve just won?
1981, Madeley College, Leeds. Final of the British Colleges Cup.
Borough Road had just lost to Jordanhill in the last minute of extra time… an interception try, if I remember correctly, pass thrown by an Irish International centre. Medals were presented pitch side — losers first — and after the brief ceremony, I threw mine into the long grass.
Questioned by our coach Bev Risman as to why I did it, I replied that it was worthless to me. He told me, that in his considered opinion, what I had done had devalued both the competition and the efforts of my teammates. He added that I would regret it in years to come. I do.
My captain did not present me with a duplicate.
Number three: A medal’s only a medal, unless you win it yourself
“Sonny Bill Williams is already a hero to many in New Zealand, and adding a second Rugby World Cup to his CV only goes to strengthen that status, but what he did immediately after the final whistle was truly incredible,” I quote from the Independent’s on-line piece.
Yes, it was truly incredible, and no one doubts that Sonny Bill is a man of the people. To give World Cup semi-final tickets to two Syrian refugees is one thing but to give his medal to… a trespasser?
What is there to connect Line to the medal? He didn’t win it, he doesn’t know Sonny Bill and he’s not even a New Zealander.
Stuart Heritage, writing in Monday’s Guardian put it more succinctly: “At some point, Sonny Bill’s noble actions are bound to affect you, too. Imagine this: you find yourself nominated for a prestigious award in your chosen industry. Against all odds, you win. Thanks to Sonny Bill Williams, you now have a 90-second window to rush out of the venue, grab the first child you see and say: ‘I hereby present you with the National Home Improvement Council’s excellence in roofing award. Truly, you deserve this more than I.’ Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like the world’s greediest, most self-obsessed ninny. Time was you could just get drunk and lose the award in a taxi on the way home, but Williams’s unforgivable decency has taken care of that. He should be ashamed of himself, the big, kind sod.”
Back to the serious stuff: if the medal meant so little to Williams, why not stop it at the disabled area on his lap of honour and present it to someone wheelchair bound? Preferably someone wearing an All Blacks badge.
Williams was quoted in the Independent as saying, “It will be hanging around that young guy’s neck and he can tell that story for years to come. He might be a future All Black!” Correct me if I’m wrong here, but don’t you have to be a New Zealander to play for the Blacks?
He added: “The medal represents the win, but going in and seeing the smiles on the boys faces, knowing that we’ve accomplished something no other All Blacks team has done, is pretty special.” This, I agree with.
But let’s just hope it doesn’t appear on EBay.
There are already rumours that, if it does, Chris Robshaw will be trying to outbid Stuart Lancaster for it.