WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand will appeal World Rugby's ruling that All Blacks center Sonny Bill Williams won't complete a disciplinary suspension in time to play next month's Bledisloe Cup test against Australia.
Williams was suspended for four matches after being sent off during the second test against the British and Irish Lions on July 1 for a dangerous shoulder charge on Lions winger Anthony Watson. He was only the third All Black to be sent off in a test match and the first in 50 years.
Williams missed the third test against the Lions, a Super Rugby match for the Auckland-based Blues and will sit out a match for his Counties-Manukau province. But a World Rugby judicial panel has ruled an All Blacks warmup match — proposed by New Zealand as the fourth match of Williams' suspension — is not acceptable.
The panel, which included two former Wallabies, said the match between the All Blacks and the Counties and Taranaki provinces was not "meaningful."
In a statement Friday, New Zealand rugby said it would ask World Rugby's appeals committee to review the decision which will see Williams complete his suspension on Aug. 20, the day after the Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney.
"Sonny Bill Williams has appealed the World Rugby judicial committee's decision not to include the All Blacks match on 11 August (a split game of 40 minutes each against Counties Manukau and Taranaki) in the four-week suspension given to Williams following a hearing into the red card he received in the second test against the touring British & Irish Lions," the statement said. "As the matter will now be decided by an appeal committee, no further comment will be made at this time."