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Kia kaha Sonny Bill Williams

Written By: - Date published: 11:45 am, April 17th, 2017 - 108 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, Media, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , ,

Sonny Bill Williams is someone who has grown on me.  My initial impression of him was that he was an overpaid professional footballer who tore up contracts for more money and code jumped just because he could.  But he has changed dramatically and improved.

He converted to the faith of Islam in 2008 while playing in Toulon.  Up until then he had been involved in different incidents of low level inappropriate behaviour clearly fueled by alcohol.  But since converting to Islam he has been an exemplary citizen.

Think of his giving away his World Cup winner’s medal straight after the final of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.  A more generous gesture is hard to imagine.  If there is an All Black spirit then this action shound exemplify it.

He has recently courted controversy in some quarters because he has insisted on covering up BNZ advertisements on his Blue’s Rugby shirt.  The reason he did this is that promoting a bank that charges interest on loans is incompatiable with his Muslim faith.   The issue is covered in Mediawatch here.  From the article:

… Radio Sport’s Tony Veitch said last weekend SBW makes his own rules and is “the most controversial sportsman we’ve ever had”.

More than 5000 comments on his Facebook page proved it was a genuine story, he told listeners. Caller after caller to his Veitch on Sport show condemned SBW for “disrespecting team culture” and making himself “bigger than the game”.

On his Newstalk ZB show – which is, coincidentally , sponsored by BNZ – Mike Hosking said SBW was “potentially undermining all that sport stands for,” though even by Hosking’s own logic it could only be sponsored professional sport being challenged.

Hosking said SBW’s outstanding talent and profile gave him the clout to set his own terms and conditions – and Hosking knows all about special rules for special talent.

In 2012, TVNZ had to create a special policy to ensure he didn’t talk about Sky City on air, because he had a commercial relationship with the company TVNZ had been unaware of until The Herald on Sunday reported it.

Get that?  By not wanting to be a walking corporate billboard he is disrespecting team culture.  And clearly the game is all about the corporate sponsors and if you don’t accept this you are undermining what rugby stands for.  Have we really been that badly brainwashed that some of our population think that the national game is completely intertwined with and subservient to corporate interests?

You would think that BNZ would be up in arms about this.  But wait

Did SBW break any rules?

No. Most professional rugby players have had the same right of conscientious objection in their contracts for about ten years, and in any case BNZ said it wasn’t bothered by SBW covering up its logo. New Zealand Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen told Morning Report SBW had already opted out of promotional work for All Blacks sponsor AIG, and other top players had opted out of promoting fast-food maker KFC because of concerns about obesity in the community, or even their own whānau.

So Veitch and Hosking are both not only expousing strange views on the relationship between the national game and corporate sponsors  but they are also wrong about the legal situation.

They seem to think that the corportisation of sport is a good thing.  I am not so sure.  In terms of playing numbers rugby is but a shadow of its former self.  My impression is that there are now a few feeder teams delivering further talent to the professional sport.  At a grassroots level the sport now lacks the vibrancy and parochialism that soccer has.  If you said this 30 years ago people would have called you crazy.

Note to Veitchy and Hoskin even if your personal contractual arrangements are dominated by and dependent on corporate interests  there are a few areas of life that are not and should not be so dominated.  And this is actually a good thing.

108 comments on “Kia kaha Sonny Bill Williams”

  1. Ad 1

    Well observed Mickey.

    Far better as a person to be fluid across disciplines. Great moral principles stemming from religious conviction.

    And unlike McCaw, didn’t allow himself to be anointed national godhead with his own film, hometown statue, celeb wedding on Womens Day, and personal industry. Our own Ali.

    Williams and McCaw both outstanding dedicated athletes, with contrasting approaches.

    The test for Williams is how he transitions out of competition and into the next phase of his life.

    I wish him well.

  2. gsays 2

    Cheers Mickey, I have been loathe to comment on sbw here as often the reaction to positive rugby opinion can be over the top.

    Sbw has/is a freakishly talented athlete in both the rugby codes.
    He has grown up in the glare of media spotlight.

    I, too, find his stance around sponsorship to be refreshing and grounded in principle.
    All the nay-sayers opinions, are based on weak, money based attitudes therefore simply negated.

    Doesn’t hurt that he brings a few more bums on seats for pure eye candy purposes. (Cheeky wink here).

  3. Tuppence Shrewsbury 3

    I support SBW in his stand. It is his right to choose through freedom of association.

    I’d like to think however that his morals extended to his paycheck and he refused a percentage proportionate to what BNZ, IAG et al contribute. Sadly, knowing the avaricious nature of his manager Khoder Nasser, I doubt this is the case.

    So if he’s biting the hand that feeds him it’s probably more SBW attention seeking.

  4. Vaughn 4

    Vietch and Hosking… zzzzz

    • Once ..whatever 4.1

      …. and Garner and Richardson (that ex cricket guy, in case you’re wondering) too – both suggesting he should take a pay cut. Apparently on the basis that its all about sponsorship and money, rather than his abilities as a sportsman.
      Who’s more the ‘whore(s)’? (you must not bite the hand that feeds you, despite your beliefs and principles apparently).

      @Richardson and Garner: bow down, face Flowers Street and the corporate logo +hr=e – forget anything about the 4th Estate go-een forward.
      And when you do, can you show us a selfie of it?

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Hosking & Veitch worship the market. Williams, a sky fairy.

    Not exactly great foundations to build ethics on.

    • The problem is under some wide definition of worship where markets and sky fairys are in the same ring then, what do you worship? If you answer wiith truth or something then that it is as absurd as the other examples. If you say you worship nothing then we’ll classify that with not wanking ☺ crew.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1

        Lao Tsu said: “I trust in my senses”, and “dwell in the fruit, not the flower”.

        • Incognito

          I wonder whether Lao Tsu would have liked carrion flowers.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            He meant respect results, not rhetoric.

            • Incognito

              Of course, this seems to suggest a very narrow idea of what is rhetoric, which I find ironic given that his quotes are scattered everywhere and used and abused out of context on a daily basis.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Whereas this specific quote re: fruit and flowers comes from the chapter of the Tao te Ching concerning religion, so is entirely apt in this context.

                Thanks all the same.

                • Incognito

                  Who am I to argue about religion with a man who has been dead for a very long time? That said, I think that religion can provide an excellent ethical framework; the free-market ideology not so much. In fact, I go further and say that the slow and progressive loss of religious moral values goes hand-in-hand with the steady rise of neoliberalism. As Max Harris says: we need more values.

                  You’re welcome.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Religions are certainly very good at claiming the credit for existing ethical frameworks.

                    It was a problem in Lao Tsu’s time too.

                    • Incognito

                      Are you saying that ethical frameworks were subrogated by religions to suit their purpose? Do I hear heresy?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Technically it would be closer to apostasy, except I didn’t recognise their authority in the first place.

                      And yes, it is manifestly so, as any decent examination of the history of books and writing attests.

                    • Incognito

                      Technically, you’re correct, but you already knew that, of course.

                      Currently, we are presented with a moral/ethical vacuum that is filled with neoliberal surrogate ‘values’ and we need a re-evaluation of our values or lack thereof. If it is not to come from religion it begs the question where will it come from?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Humanism, as usual.

        • marty mars

          I trust in my senses therefore mistrust in my senses.

    • weka 5.2

      I don’t know. This sounds sensible to me,

      “According to Islamic law, you can’t use money to make money – it has to be from legitimate trade. It is prohibited to accept interest or fees for loans of money.”

      (from your link below).

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.1

        Unfortunately it’ comes with a large helping of mumbo-pocus.

        Is it really “rent” as we understand the term? A landlord is responsible (or at least should be) for the upkeep of rented property. Do sharia banks come and fix the guttering?

        • weka

          One person’s mumbo-pocus is another person’s inspiration /shrug.

          I was meaning more the principle of money should come from actual useful things not simply from accruing money.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.2

        It is prohibited to accept interest or fees for loans of money.

        And yet there’s this thing called Islamic Banking that does, essentially, both of those.

  6. Neil 6

    Surely SBW has money in a interest paying bank account or interest paying investments??? now he wouldnt be earning interest if the banks didnt charge interest on loans???

  7. mauī 7

    You couldn’t hope for better cut through on the topic of bank interest and getting people thinking about all that automatic profit that is extracted from NZ.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      Once they discover that a sharia mortgage means you pay rent to the bank (on top of the capital repayments) while you pay it off, they might realise there’s nothing to be gained by it.

  8. BM 8

    Williams is a clown.

    Paying “rent” is no different than paying interest, the key point here though is no ones getting free money.


    • adam 8.1

      And here comes the corporate trolls. On ya BM. Always a beacon to the sycophants in these troubling times.

    • weka 8.2

      from OAB’s link above,

      “According to Islamic law, you can’t use money to make money – it has to be from legitimate trade. It is prohibited to accept interest or fees for loans of money.”

      Rent is paying money for legitimate trade (you get a house in return).

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.2.1

        According to many, rentiers are as big a problem in this economy as banks.

        Couple (a) buys a house for $100k according to sharia law. They pay the bank $20k per year for five years plus $3k per year in rent.

        Couple (b) buys a house for $100k from the BNZ. They pay the bank $20k per year for five years plus $3k per year in interest.

        Looks like semantics to me.

  9. tinfoilhat 9

    i can remember similar mutterings when Michael Jones stopped playing on sundays.

    Storm in a teacup stuff that will pass as people find something else to moan about.

    • Red 9.1

      Big difference MJ actually sacrificed something for his religion, he forgo a number of tests by not playing Sunday’s, SBW is forgoing nothing. He is still been paid indirectly by his sponsors he boycotts and missing no rugby, irrespective of mumbo jumbo of religion jones stance was far more principaled

      • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1.1

        He is still been paid indirectly…

        Seen his contract have you? Neither have I, but it looks like BNZ have, and are happy with the situation.

        What he does with his money is between him and his sky fairy, ie: none of our business.

        • Red

          Agree just contrasting the Mj and Sbw stands re personal sacrifice to principals, no problem with sbw stand, up to blues bnz to protest, otherwise who really cares

  10. Ethica 10

    I don’t follow rugby but I have been impressed by SBW in recent years as someone with a mind of his own and ethics. Speaking up against corporates – great. He has done great work in his UNICEF ambassador role too.

  11. Guerilla Surgeon 11

    I don’t care what it is, if Hosking’s agin it – I’m for it.

  12. David Mac 12

    This has all gone rather well for the BNZ marketing dept and their agency. A vox pop question in the street 2 months ago…”The Auckland Blues play with a sponsor’s name on their collar, who is that sponsor?” Fast forward to today and ask the same question. I think Sonny Bill has multiplied the benefit of BNZ’s marketing investment x 10.

    Not because he thumped someone in a bar or up-ended 24 cans on the way to England. He has gained the exposure because he has integrity. Banks like to be seen associating with integrity.

    • McFlock 12.1

      BNZ have actually done a good PR job in a month of stunningly shit PR efforts around the globe.

      Having their logo replaced with plunket was a freaking brilliant idea from the “let’s be human and reach agreement” side as well as the purely mercenary “minimise PR damage” perspective.

      • newsense 12.1.1

        Yep- it is a massive win-win for all the parties involved in the club. Not so for those trying to throw 1950s angst.

  13. Skeptic 13

    As is usual for talking heads – Retch and fosking – neither of whom have a working brain cell between them – they’ve got it completely wrong. Even the Press – a paper that I only read to see what the enemy is thinking – got this one right.
    SBW has it written into his contract about who he wears and doesn’t wear on his sports uniforms. Apparently BNZ are actually supportive of his stance and his religious convictions.

  14. McFlock 14

    To be fair, a partner-bashing fuckwit knows all about controversy, and a so-called journalist with a massive conflict of interest knows all about potentially undermining what they stand for.

    And yet neither of them can recognise integrity, for some reason…

  15. newsense 15

    Veitch and Hosking can’t understand the idea that there might be things that make you turn down money.

    Both of them have a fairly chequered and controversial record.

    Another thing about this SBW, Blues and BNZ is the professionalism it has been handled with.

    Beat up jounros need BS to bleat about, and try and make something out of nothing.

    • Muttonbird 15.1

      Veitch and Hosking can’t understand the idea that there might be things that make you turn down money.

      This. As a result of earning your living from profile, sponsorship, and endorsement, those two are dumbfounded that anyone might question that authority.

  16. Draco T Bastard 16

    The reason he did this is that promoting a bank that charges interest on loans is incompatiable with his Muslim faith.

    Not compatible with Christianity either. I particularly like this one:If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.

    And yet, despite that, many National Party supporters and MPs call themselves Christians while cutting payments to beneficiaries and forcing students into debt to live.

    or Buddhism:

    The common translation seems to point to the phrase, ‘gain upon gain’.

    “One discerns wrong livelihood as wrong livelihood, and right livelihood as right livelihood. And what is wrong livelihood? Scheming, persuading, hinting, belittling, and charging interest. This is wrong livelihood.”

    So, that would be the three main religions of the world that hold that usury is bad.

    Capitalism is based entirely upon usury.

    Have we really been that badly brainwashed that some of our population think that the national game is completely intertwined with and subservient to corporate interests?

    Wouldn’t surprise me as it’s business that rules through the politicians and it’s business that censors what we see in the MSM.

    Note to Veitchy and Hoskin even if your personal contractual arrangements are dominated by and dependent on corporate interests there are a few areas of life that are not and should not be so dominated.

    No areas of life or society should be dominated by corporate interests. Corporate interests should always come secondary or even tertiary to life and society.

    It is by putting corporate interests first that has brought about climate change, the ongoing destruction of the ecosphere and the increasing poverty that we see around us and the world.

    • ropata 16.1

      +1 DTB, Veitch and Hosking are media whores who live and breathe to sell whatever shit their corporate sponsors are peddling. SBW is like a splinter in their minds, representing an alien and incomprehensible value system that’s not centred on Money.

    • mosa 16.2

      Superbly put Draco.

    • Gosman 16.3

      Ummm… that suggests someone who is poor shouldn’t be offered loans not that interest shouldn’t be charged on any loan to anyone.

      • Draco T Bastard 16.3.1

        You should go read the whole list:

        Withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live.

        In other words, don’t be a RWNJ.

        • Gosman

          Ummm… that is from Ezekiel. If you are going to use OT verses to argue what should and shouldn’t be allowed then be prepared for the whole stoning adulterers and gays argument.

          • Draco T Bastard


            The New Testament embraces both Jew and Gentile. Id. at 3.

            The New Testament continued the prohibition of usury: “In the fullness of time the Messiah came, and no part of the moral law was abrogated. The prohibition of usury as to the Jew was extended, to include mankind, and the permit as to the stranger was declared inoperative and void. The Jew was taught to sympathize with strangers remembering that they were once strangers in Egypt.” Id. at 9-10.

            Jesus taught (Luke 6:34-35) “love ye your enemies, and do good and lend, hoping for nothing again.” Id. at 10. Usury was the basis for Jesus’s calling the money changers thieves: “The commerce of the world is conducted on principles as much at variance with the teachings of the master, as are the practices of a sneak thief or burglar. So the Master taught, as with whip of cords, he indignantly drove its representatives, from the sacred precincts of the Temple, denouncing them as thieves. Every well-informed mind knows that the money changers in the Temple, on that startling occasion, were at the very center of the Jewish Banking system, and of the pitiless and grinding commerce of Palestine.” Id. at 19.

            So, it seems that the New Testament also prohibits usury.

  17. He converted to the faith of Islam in 2008 while playing in Toulon. Up until then he had been involved in different incidents of low level inappropriate behaviour clearly fueled by alcohol. But since converting to Islam he has been an exemplary citizen.

    People always relate these “turned his life around” stories as though they were good news, inspirational in some way. I just find them annoying. Their subject is a person who can do the right thing only because he’s taken up an authoritarian ideology and is convinced a supernatural supervisor has commanded him to obey and is constantly watching to monitor his obedience. They describe someone who was a stranger to ethics and now proves himself a stranger to reason as well. The best you can say about these stories is that at least the schmuck is behaving himself now, but that’s a dispiritingly low bar to set for a human.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1

      …and that’s discounting the possibility that the entire redemption narrative is bollocks from the get-go. Must we accept without question that he was a schmuck prior to the lobotomy?

      Anyhow, well said.

    • ropata 17.2

      I think you’ll find that in most cases a decent bloke is still a decent bloke with or without religion. Just like a religious arsehole would still be an arsehole without a theological metanarrative of the meaning of life the universe and everything.

      If SBW has aligned himself to Islam of his own free will because he admires its ethics then that’s OK isn’t it? As long as he doesn’t go for the nutty side of Islam, he’s a pretty good example of a ‘normal’ Muslim

      • Psycho Milt 17.2.1

        I personally find the idea of someone converting to Islam because they admire its ethics horrifying, but YMMV.

        • ropata

          Muslims, like Christians, have varying interpretations of the Scripture, and SBW’s ethics are probably more cultural and founded in a caring community rather than some inhuman ideology.

    • Incognito 17.3

      Your dualism creates an insoluble problem for you. Why the mockery and name-calling? Cheap words that achieve nothing but scorn & ridicule.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 17.3.1

        Mockery is a perfectly valid rhetorical response to false claims, especially now the church isn’t allowed to burn people alive any more.

        • Incognito

          Somebody’s faith is deeply personal but feel free to call it “false claims” to justify mockery if that’s the intent. True, mockery has its place & time in rhetoric when it adds to or aids the strength of the persuasive argument but it adds nothing when it is just mocking for the sake of it; this becomes anti-rhetoric and just displays contempt and intolerance often based on barefaced ignorance.

      • Psycho Milt 17.3.2

        There’s a problem I can’t solve? Actually, there are many, but none of them arise from that comment.

        There are two reasons for the mockery and name-calling:
        1. This is a blog comments thread, not afternoon tea at the vicarage.
        2. I find unreason and irrationalism fit subjects for mockery. On occasion I exhibit them myself, and mockery ensues. It’s all fair enough.

        • Incognito

          TBH I use mockery too but more often than not consider it unnecessary and infantile afterwards. I guess I am projecting this onto you for which I apologise.

  18. Cricklewood 18

    Good to see the NZRU are comfortable and make allowance for players not wishing to support certain sponsers.
    Seems to me its only news due to SBW not communicating his wishes and the covering the labels with tape. Im sure an alternate strip would have been provided had he asked prior to the game.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1

      Since his wishes are in his contract, I can’t see how he failed to communicate them.

  19. timeforacupoftea 19

    ( One Anonymous Bloke rote 8.2.1
    17 April 2017 at 2:59 pm
    According to many, rentiers are as big a problem in this economy as banks.

    Couple (a) buys a house for $100k according to sharia law. They pay the bank $20k per year for five years plus $3k per year in rent.

    Couple (b) buys a house for $100k from the BNZ. They pay the bank $20k per year for five years plus $3k per year in interest.

    Looks like semantics to me. )

    I agree with what you say “One Anonymous Bloke”
    From a red blooded older womans point of veiw on SBW,
    I have always thought of him as Sissy Bill Williams kind and considerate.
    Willaims Sister has more testosterone than he.

    On Hoskisns,
    A jumped up short little twat,
    with not much between his ears,
    he makes our family spew on sight with a flick of the remote he is gone.

    On Veitch,
    A evil violent predator,
    Never listened to him since he was sentenced

  20. BM 20

    Is Islamic banking a fractional reserve banking system.

    Of course it is. At one end you have sellers of the Islamic Banking brand claiming that the Islamic system is so different from the conventional one and then you have poor little buyers of these products wondering what is so different aside from the Arabic names.

    Let me reiterate, the Islamic Banking System is a fractional reserve banking system where money is CREATED very much like in a conventional system


  21. peterlepaysan 21

    Once again veitch and hosking have drawn attention to their awesome intellects that attract advertisers. Sigh.

    In comparison both the NZRU and the BNZ look rather sensible

  22. tc 22

    Hoskins and Vietchy; shock jocks with highly questionable ethics and court proceedings to back that up.

    Ignore the media whores, it’s what annoys them most.

  23. Cinny 23

    Proud of you SBW. Last week I heard commentators saying… why has he just started doing this, he didn’t have a problem with logos last season and so on, those kind of comments really pissed me off, are people not allowed to change as they learn more.

    It’s called personal growth, maybe the commentators should try it some time.

    Hosking is nothing more than a has been who props up a gambling institution (Sky City). SBWs logo actions shines a light on Hoskings lack of morals.

    But SBW did not cover or change his collar logo for fame or fortune, no it’s deeper than that, it’s about setting a good example to others when you are in the spotlight. Kudos to him for supporting an organisation that is important to all NZer’s, Plunket

    • Gosman 23.1

      Would he be willing to take a pay cut for his religious beliefs?

      • mac1 23.1.1

        Adherents of religions tend to value other than material things, Gosman- giving, caring, you know, that sort of thing. Status is derived from things other than income or wealth. Doing good is different from doing better. And of course I’ll always win this argument because he who does not believe and act so is not a true adherent of a true religion……..

        • Gosman

          Except SBW has been known to ditch agreements in an attempt to get a better commercial deal for himself so he isn’t above following the money.

          • mickysavage

            That was pre Toulon days.

            • Gosman

              No, it was the Toulon days. He moved to Toulon after ditching his previous contract with the Caterbury Bulldogs. He did this with the full support of his manager Khodar Nasser who alongside Anthony Mundine (who also is managed by Nasser) was one of the reasons SBW converted to Islam.

              • Cinny

                How long ago was that Gosman? Around seven years ago maybe? People change as they learn, it’s called growth and it’s healthy, just in case you missed my point.

                • Gosman

                  SBW doesn’t think his motivation behind what he did back then was wrong, just the actions he took as a result.


                  • Cinny

                    Thanks for the link to an article from back in 2012.

                    SBW has grown so much in the last five years. Proud of him for his recent actions.

                    I wonder what personal growth you have achieved in the last five years Gosman? As for me I’m learning more and evolving everyday, just like SBW is 😀

                    Yay for personal growth, there will be much personal growth happening the day after the spring equinox.. standby NZ, it’s going to be all shades of awesome 😀

              • mickysavage

                My point exactly. The decision to go to Toulon occurred before he was actually at Toulon and when he decided to convert to Islam.

          • The New Student

            He didn’t ditch purely for commercial reasons, everybody knows that. It’s no secret.

          • mac1

            Gosman, you did specify religious beliefs and SBW’s salary. I responded to that query. Of course he can go chasing the best contract that such a talented and effective player can get.

            The two situations are different- what a player can get for his contract, and what a player will accept in line with his religious beliefs being affected in terms of his conscience.

            Don’t go moving the goal posts. It’s too easy to score an own goal that way……

    • The New Student 23.2

      Well-said cinny. SBW has raised but one important point for us all to ponder and he did so in a non-violent, non-confrontational manner. The public domain are all talking about it, both online and off. It’s great too see. I look forward to more of this.

  24. Tanz 24

    Considering he has been paid huge sums of money from the corporation, his behaviour is belligerent and ungrateful. He signed up to be an advertisement, and was paid much dosh for it, so if he has now changed his mind, why does he not return the big fat cheque? Not exactly acting in good faith.

    • ropata 24.1

      I doubt his contract states any requirement to be a walking billboard, his job is chasing a ball and smashing into people

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